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Remembered Today:

The man who named a trench


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Earlier this evening whilst browsing the sites I came across a short discussion from 2006 about Tor Top Trench and Hill 62. The hill was known as 62 due to its height but it was known as Tor Top due to an uncle of mine who named a trench while digging it in mid 1915. At the time he was still short of his 19th birthday but had been gassed at the start of 2nd Ypres, and had later been standing in a trench next to his older brother who was shot in the head by a sniper. His name was Jack Cooper DCM of the 1/5th Sherwood Foresters who had spent his life until 1914 living in a house in Torr Top Road, New Mills Derbyshire. In his own words, as dictated to a newspaper reporter in the 1960s........"I was with the Forresters at Ypres in 1915 where we were holding the front line. There were very few trenches at the edge of Sanctuary Wood close to the Germans who held the slightly higher ground, and we needed to dig trenches higher up Hill 62 so we had to start digging them, which we did night after night. In my sector were other local lads, Fred Wright and Frank Swann, etc. Then one night we were told that the night after a "brass hat" would be coming round to see how we were doing. The Germans were sending up verey lights and by the light of one I took a field post card out of my pocket, wrote Torr Top on it and, with a bullet from a pouch, stuck it into the side of the trench. Next night the "brass hat" came round, and when a verey light went up he spotted the post card notice. I can see him now, wearing a monocle, as he turned to one of his staff officers and asked, "What does that say?" "Torr Top Trench, sir," said the officer. "Very appropriate." said the "brass hat". It was appropriate too because the trench was being dug into rising ground. So, the trench became Torr Top officially, and the Engineers put up the board, made from the top of a box, which is now in New Mills Library, giving the trench and the one connecting the name "Tor Top", one of the r's being left off. I was lucky enough to know Jack as a child and as an ex soldier who had seen active service, and in his later life we drank a few pints together and talked at least about his war which he had bottled up for so long. In 2002 his son George wore his dad's medals on his right breast while a Memorial to 4 lads from Torr Top, New Mills, had a plaque unveiled in their names. Within the space of a few square yards had lived two lads awarded the MM and two others awarded the DCM. To settle a wee question as to whether Hill 62 and Tor Top were the same thing, I can most certainly say that they were.

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Hi Sketcher, I found your article above about John (Jack) Cooper extremely interesting so I too did a bit of searching on the men you mentioned and this is what an absolute amazing story I found out. 1822 later 240284 L/Cpl/Sgt J Cooper DCM, lived at 15 Torr Top Street, New Mills in Derbyshire, he was Gazetted the DCM on the 1st January 1919, 5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters. "For conspicuous devotion to duty and consistent good work since September 1916 to date. He had on several occasions as section commander showed very great gallantry in action and excellent leadership". He was in the thick of it many times including the VC action at the Hohenzollern Redoubt where he was wounded in the hand on the 14th October 1915 and later in the war gassed but survived. 1824 later 240286 Pte Fred Wright MM, who lived at number 5 Torr Top Street what a fantastic story he has, MM gazetted 11th December 1918. "For initiative and conspicuous gallantry on a daylight patrol on the 12th August 1918 and on a fighting patrol on the night of the 13th August North East of Bethune". Whilst in charge of an O.P. this Private seeing no movement on the enemy front took out three other scouts and entered a listening post and then penetrated the enemy's front line and examined for 35 yards. That night the same men and an officer found the trench still unoccupied but located a German post about 100 yards away. The next night a fighting patrol went out to penetrate the same point and attack the post from behind. When the leaders were almost on the parapet they were subjected to point blank M.G. fire from two guns and a shower of bombs. The leader and one Private fell on the parapet, two Corporals and one other man were wounded. Private Wright, one other man and a Corporal fought hard and silenced the gun but the other gun and bombs held them back and they were ordered to withdraw. Private Wright helped one Corporal back and returned for the other Corporal who had been shot through both legs, shoulder and back. In spite of considerable fire from the enemy he was brought back to our lines. Afterwards Private Wright went out a third time to lead a fresh patrol to try to recover the bodies of the leader and other Privates but the enemy had taken them in. 1784 Private Frank Swann,6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters, later transferred to Machine Gun Corps number 24233 and served with 139 Coy 46 Division. He was discharged on the 20th February 1919, was originally with "H" Company (Whaley Bridge), he lived at New Mills. The other gallantry winners, 240244 Corporal E.H. White M.M. awarded the D.C.M. for gallantry in action on a daylight patrol, 240391 L/Cpl J. Holmes awarded M.M., The following awarded the M.M. 240526 Cpl J. Vanes, 240286 Pte F. Wright for gallantry in action on a fighting patrol led by 2nd Lieutenant T.A. Lake, 306187 Pte C. Swift for gallantry in action under fire. I'm sure there is more to tell and I will get back if I can find it! BRONNO.

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  • 3 months later...


It has been several months since I started this topic of extraordinary bravery by Jack Cooper and his childhood mates who all lived at Torr Top New Mills. Back in June, having reached my 75th year and being constantly at the local hospital due to an eye problem, I kind of lost track of things. Now however, I am back in the line, and have made contact with my wider-family...cousin George Cooper, son of Jack, who fathered him in his mid 40s...and was born two years after me.

Two weeks ago George and I were driven in state by his son to Bodelwyddan Castle in North Wales to take part in a lecture about the origins of WW1 followed by a walk into the castle grounds to view the 1915 trenches dug to give the young soldiers at Kinmel Park Camp a taste of what they were heading for in Flanders. Young George (aged only 72) took all his files to do with his father and other Torr Top lads, and wowed the lecturer.

I can arrange for you to meet George...should you so wish...and we could go on the tour of New Mills to see Torr Top's Memorial and the grave of Jack and his brother Charlie...followed by a visit to the local Library to view the original "Tor Top" notice board still with mud stains that was brought back by a Colonel at the end of the war to be presented to the Town.


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  • 4 years later...
  • 2 years later...
On 26/09/2013 at 20:33, sketcher said:

George Cooper, son of Jack,

Sketcher - what a fascinating story!

Im currently doing a Masters and my dissertation is 46th Division at Gommecourt in 1916.  As i'm sure you know, primary sources go a long way in any piece of scholarship and im always on the look out for good 'uncovered' testimonial evidence.  I only live in Marple, but is there any chance you can put me in touch with George please?



On 17/06/2013 at 22:27, BRONNO said:

1822 later 240284 L/Cpl/Sgt J Cooper DCM



Some brilliant information in here, and many thanks for sharing!

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  Unfortunately sketcher has not been on the forum for five years,  you could try the messaging system ,if he still has the same email he should receive a notification 

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44 minutes ago, bigjohn said:

Unfortunately sketcher has not been on the forum for five years, 



Yes, I knew it was a long shot, thanks for the mention however

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