Bertram Cecil COPPOCK

[Bertram COPPOCK Cambrai Memorial Simon Haynes 2015 smaller]

Bertram Coppock's name on the Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, France; image courtesy of Simon Haynes

Bertram Coppock was born in Leamington Spa in Warwickshire in early 1896 but his father came from Oxford and he was baptised at St Clement's church in April of that year. [Coppock is a common surname in Oxford, particularly in Headington Quarry.] Bertram was the second son of Frederick Charles and Mary Coppock. Frederick had been born in Oxford in late 1867 and grew up at 16 Alma Place (between the Cowley Road and St Clement's High Street). His father Charles was a janitor at the Bodleian Library. Frederick became an ironmonger's assistant, and later a journeyman ironmonger. In July 1893 he married Mary Ryall, who was living with her parents in Leamington Spa, but who had been born in Camberwell in London in 1862/63. The couple lived at 94 Plymouth Place, Leamington Priors, and had two children: Frederick (born late 1894) and Bertram (early 1896). Both boys were brought to Oxford to be baptised at St Clement's church, in the parish of their paternal grandparents.

Frederick junior became an ironmonger's assistant, probably working for his father. The family left Leamington Spa in around 1907 and Frederick senior died in late 1910 in Hastings in Sussex, aged 43. By April 1911 his widow Mary was living with Frederick junior at 3 Audley Street in Reading. Bertram, meanwhile, was boarding (along with several other employees) with the manager of E MacDonald's grocery store and drapery in Fore Street, Dulverton, in Somerset. He was a drapery salesman.

By 1915 Frederick and his mother had moved to Oxford and were living at 80 Chilswell Road in Grandpont (a house previously occupied by the family of Walter Tyrrell). It's possible that Bertram had moved here as well. Frederick was working for Ison, Kidman and Watts, ironmongers, on Cornmarket Street.

Bertram joined the 2nd Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment and was a Sergeant, service no. 41706. He was sent to northern France and died on 21 November 1917, aged 21, at the Battle of Cambrai. This battle had begun the day before with an initially very successful attack involving massed artillery and tanks, aircraft and infantry operating together in an ‘all arms’ assault. Though the Germans eventually recaptured much of the ground taken, Cambrai provided a blueprint for the ways in which the War would eventually be won. James Prestidge was killed in the same battle six days later. Bertram's and James's bodies were never recovered but they are both named on the Cambrai Memorial in Louverval, which commemorates more than 7,000 servicemen of the United Kingdom and South Africa who died in the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917 and whose graves are not known.

In March 1916 Bertram's older brother Frederick had been granted exemption from fighting in the War. However, he later enlisted and became a Second Air Mechanic in the Royal Flying Corps, service no. 78409. On his return home to Oxford he married Violet Lily Volley, in December 1918. His mother Mary died in September 1921 but Frederick and Violet continued to live at 80 Chilswell Road. In October 1923 they had a daughter, Edna Viola, who was baptised at St Matthew's church. Frederick later became a sales manager. He died in Oxford in March 1963 aged 68.

With thanks to David Eason for additional information.

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