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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

James Gough

Mat McLachlan

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Hi all,

Bit of a long shot here, but I'm looking for info on a British soldier named James Gough (or a number of other possibilities). Please see the below for more info (this comes straight from the family). Not much to go on, but I'd appreciate any feedback.


Name: James Gough or James Gough Cooper ( possibly even James Buchan or James Gough Buchan)

The reason for so many name options is that his father (my Great Grandfather) ran off from his first wife, then took up with another woman who then left him. So there are a few options there! Our best guess is that he was just known as James Gough or James Gough Cooper.

War record:

Circa 1916/17 Private & Corporal in Royal Fusiliers (not sure which battalion)

Circa 1917/18 Lieutenant in Royal Engineers

Fought on the Somme - went over the top three times, once in daylight... Fought near Albert and Bapaume. Bernife Wood...?

Latterly as Lieut. with the Royal Engineers - had a job behind the lines monitoring the German guns using a sound wave detection device. His job was to plot the gun positions so we could aim our own at them.

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So we are looking for an officer's file at Kew. Quite a few to eliminate I suspect. Is there any other information such as a year or date of birth? Even a range might help.

Can you confirm whether you have searched the medal index cards for him? Issue was not automatic for officers, so there may be a blank there.


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Possibly his service record -


Scope and content


Covering dates 1914-1921

Held by

The National Archives, Kew

Former reference (Department) 6812

Legal status Public Record(s)


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The wood in question sounds like Bernafay Wood on the Somme near Contalmaison.

He left the Army (officially) in 1921 but was probably demobilised some time before then:



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Actual MIC shows him in the 8th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (in 12th Division).

Some brief extracts from censuses, etc.

Born 17 Sep 1888

With parents Henry Cooper (cab driver) and Caroline Cooper and brothers and sisters in 1891 at Marylebone

With parents Henry Cooper (cab driver) and Caroline Cooper and brothers and sisters in 1901 at 32 Carlton Vale, Marylebone

An architects assistant living with his father Henry Gough Cooper, sister Mary Lilian Deverell and her husband Sidney Deverell at 52 Gowan Road, Willesden, in 1911

An architect, of 47 Whitgift avenue, South Croydon in 1956

Arrived back in England from Cape Town aboard the Warwick Castle with his wife Lena (born 25-7-1892) on 13 May 1956

Died in 1975 at Croydon


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WO338 gives James Gough Cooper and that reference gives his officers file as WO 339/102641

And there is a Sea Departure card, going to NZ with Lena, in 1960. That shows he was ARIBA so their files ought to yield something

Goes to South Africa 15 February 1935 with "Mrs Cooper"

And in 22 Dec 1955 they travel to South Africa with Mr E G Cooper, war pensioner born 14 Jul 1923.

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.and I forgot the obvious. There is an Ancestry tree


which indicates at least 2 children, one names as Francis Gough Cooper born 17 Dec 1921 died 1999

It is a comparatively small tree and it would be worthwhile your contacting the owner.

The only thing I would say was that Lena seems to be the mother of the 1921 and 1923 children, but that does not tie with your family myths about him. Nor can I find a marriage to Lena

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There is a Francis G Cooper, birth registered JFM Qtr 1922 at Kingston, Surrey - mothers maiden name Frost.

There is also a marriage of James G Cooper to Lena Frost in AMJ Qtr 1918 at Barton-upon-Irwell, Lancs.

So, it would appear that the marriage to Lena Frost lasted for a considerable time (1918 to 1960+)


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John G born 1919

Edward G born 1923

in Free BMD

both with mother Frost

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James's birth appears to have been registered as James Gough Buchan in the OND Qtr of 1888, so the change of name from Buchan to Cooper appears to have occured some time between 1874 and 1888 according to two birth certificates. Interestingly, both list the mother's name as Caroline.

I seem to have made the same slip as Corisande and read that it was James who had the marital changes rather than his father...!

Anyway, we had better get back on track to the Great War...!


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