Private Charlie Cooper Writes From Front

Wednesday, July 21, 1915

On to March to Divisional Reserve Huts

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Relieved by 2rd Canadians and Battalion proceeded to huts – Divisional Reserve.” [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: We are told by the Battalion history “On July 21st the 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade paraded for inspection by Lieut.-Gen. E.A.H. Alderson, C.B., who was accompanied by H.R.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught, the Right Hon. Sir Robert Borden, Prime Minister of Canada, and Brig.-Gen. R.E.W. Turner, V.C.   Following the inspection, the 14th Battalion marched to Kortepyp Huts, near Neuve Eglise, there to pass a week in Divisional Reserve.” [2]

21 July 15The second of two letters written to family from the front by Private Charles Cooper, then serving with the 14th Battalion was published by his hometown newspaper, The Quebec Chronicle, on this date three weeks after it was written:

“1st July 1915.

Dear Brother: – I again take the pleasure of writing you these few lines, hoping to find yourself and all the family in the very best of health, as this leaves me at the present. I was expecting a letter from you the last few days as I wrote you one, and also a P.C. a few weeks ago, hoping you have received it by now or will receive it. Well, we are having lovely weather in the trenches now, only rather hot, hoping you are having nice weather over there, also good times of it, as I expect so.

Well, Tom, how are all the boys around Quebec, did you drop across Fred Procter yet, when you do tell him I was asking about him and hope he is in the pink of condition, as I am myself. All the boys are well over here only it’s a hard job to locate them. The only one that I know is with me and he is in the Machine Gun Battery, otherwise known as the ‘Death or Glory Boys’ and that is Jimmie Collins of Michael St. and he is doing fine up to now. He was asking all about you at home and wishes to be remembered to all. We often have a good talk about old Quebec. Well up to now I have been in the trenches a few weeks and came out all right.

I hope I shall see you all again. I was speaking to Canon Scott last week and he is looking fine and dandy on it, and seems to be enjoying himself here all right. Big Joe is in England always. I am in the pioneers myself and like it all right. We have good times here whenever we come out of the trenches for a few days rest. Collins can’t ‘comprend,’ at all but I can all right and it comes in very handy at all times. The French here are something different to what we have in Canada. Well, I suppose you are still working away in the Garrison Club. I believe the 2nd Contingent are in England. When are you going to come over (wha). How is the Missus, Florrie, Muriel, George, Dott and the baby getting on, fine, I hope, as usual.

Well Tom I haven’t got much to say in this letter as I am waiting for an answer to the last one. So I will bring this letter to a close for now, so good-bye. Fond and best love to all at home,

I am, ever your fond brother, Charlie.” [4]

PRIVATE CHARLES COOPER, No. 22848: It is believed that this letter writer was Private Charles Cooper, No. 22848.  He enlisted at Quebec City on August 9th 1914 and signed his Attestation on September 28th, 1914 with the 12th Battalion, CEF.  This battalion was authorized on 10 August 1914 and embarked for Britain on 30 September 1914, where it was re-designated the 12th Reserve Infantry Battalion, CEF on 29 April 1915, to provide reinforcements for the Canadian Corps in the field. Cooper’s 1914 Attestation paper gives his date of birth as September 15, 1873; his occupation as ‘labourer,’ and indicated he had three years prior service with the 87th Quebec Regiment.  Cooper was transferred to the 14th Bn. on April 22nd 1915 and served with them until March 17th 1917, when he was invalided back to Canada and discharged in December on medical grounds.  He re-enlisted May 28th 1918 at Quebec City with the 1st Depot Bn., 2nd Quebec Regt.  On his second Attestation he changed his birthdate to October 10th, 1869, and his occupation to ‘cab driver.’  No further information has been found about his later life.

[1]   War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, July 21, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa
[2]   R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pg. 65.
[3]   “Charlie Cooper Writes From Front,” The Quebec Chronicle, Quebec City, Wednesday, July 21, 1915, pg. 5, col. 5
[4]   Ibid

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