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Remembered Today:

3756 & 266166 Ernest William Cope, 3/7th & 1/7 Btn, Sherwood F

LCpl Lee Cope

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Hello folks,

I hope you are all well and ready for Christmas!

I'm wondering if I could possibly get assistance in hints and tips in researching the 3/7th & 1/7th Battalion, Notts & Derbyshire Regiment.

I've been researching my first great grandfather who's name was "Ernest William Cope".

During his early years Ernest was sent to live with his grandmother under the name "William Horton" and when returning to his biological parents, briefly went under the name "Ernest William Watson". But due to him being baptised under the name "Ernest william Cope", he decided to also be married and stick with the surname "Cope", hence I am a "Cope".

(Mother was Louisa Richardson-Cope and Father was William Watson)

Ernest prefered to be called "Bill Cope" and I've found a newspaper article from the 27th May 1991 that has my grandfather "Ernest Thomas Cope", stating Bill Cope as the grounds keeper for Gresley Rovers FC. I've also found a photo of Ernest playing for the football team in 1921, (still to be confirmed, but the likeness is very uncanny).

Now here is the rub, Bill Cope's only living child is Philip Graham Cope, who prefers to be known as Graham (all very confusing, I know), and he would have only been Four years old when Bill passed away at the age of 48. Sadly due to time catching up with Graham, it's proving very hard to recall any information about Bill Copes younger days, that his Mother Louisa Cope (nee stocking) may have mentioned.

Bill Cope was born in Warton, Warwickshire 06 Jan 1892 and spent the remainder of his life in Castle Gresley, South Derbyshire, and according to Graham Bill never went to war. So spent his war days as a coal miner & later after the war became the grounds keeper for the local team, but I'm trying to assertain whether Bill spent any time in the local territorial regiment.

I've attached some images that show Bill With the Notts & Derby Regiment during a billeted exercise in Harpenden.

I know that the eye will see what it wants to see, but this image has me intrigued as it could very well be Bill as a teenager.

Let me know what you think folks and any assistance in finding anything remotely usefull for Bill's early years would be very much appreciated.

Here is the link that I found for the F Coy & H Coy image's upon: https://derbyshireterritorials.wordpress.com/8th-battalion/

The Gresley Rovers FC image is courtesy of The Magic Attic in Swadlincote, Derbyshire and they kindly let me have use of it.



PS. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas, and a happy new year.



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(17/11/15 - early research which has been proven not to be Bill Cope.)

Here are some 8th Battalion F Coy images to be found online, possibly from Harpenden 1914 -15.

At this Bill Cope would be about 22 - 23 years old, but I have no evidence that Ernest was part of the 8th Battalion.

As far as I can see Ernest served with the 3/7th & 1/7th Nott's & Derbyshire Regiment.



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Is it just me or are these the same soldiers? here is the write up for the first image, courtesy of the following link: https://derbyshireterritorials.wordpress.com/5th-battalion-2/5th-battalion/

Letter “H” Company, 5th (Derby) Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby) Regt were headquartered at Swadlincote Drill Station. In addition, various sections were also found in the outlaying villages and this was the case for the Castle Gresley section of “H” Company, which was established at High Cross Banks, whilst yet another section was stationed at Repton Drill Station.

This would fit with Bill Cope's time frame.

The chap with the green circle matches a chap in one of the original images. His name was Fred Serven https://derbyshireterritorials.wordpress.com/8th-battalion/fred-severn/ and he was serving with the 6th, so logically this means that the sections were either on a bit of downtime and taking photo's amongst themselves.

So I think the 5th, 6th & 8th Battalions in Harpenden would be a good place to begin looking for names on nominal roll's... Wouldn't it?



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Hi Lee

I'm sorry, but I wouldn't be convinced…...

Is this the two men who you think are the same? The ears and nose look different……...


They are also in different Battalions - so it would mean him moving between the 8th and 5th Battalions between 1909 and 1912 (dates from postmarks on the post cards) - which is always possible I guess.

I'm really bad at spotting people - so would be interested in what others say



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Thanks for the reply Mike,

I too agree that there are distinct differences in the ears and nose, but the chap with the Red circle next to him in both image's looks to be the same chap from H Coy, 5th Battalion.

This could help me in discovering which Battalions were on exercise in Harpenden 1914 - 15.

I'm using a very useful page that was built for the Derbyshire Territorials, in order to scan through images and narrow down a list of potential soldiers/Battalions who could indicate the presence of my great grandfather.

Bills face was quite unmistakable, and some of the images seem to be a mixture of Battalions between exercises for the Derbyshire pre war territorials. Although I must admit his name has been very confusing from the beginning and his time as a teenager growing up in Castle & Church Gresley is very sketchy to say the least.

All I know is that he worked down the local colliery and was the groundsman for Gresley Rovers FC. Bill may have also played football for the team in 1921, but this is yet to be confirmed.

On my day off I'm also going to visit a very interesting place named "The Magic Attic" in Swadlincote, South Derbyshire, to see if the great team have found anything rererence Bill's footballing days.

I'll also ask if they have any records reference local coal miners, who were also part of the local territorial's based at the training hall in "High Cross Banks".

I have found the image below and I'm 99% certain that Ernest William (Bill) Cope is on there at the bottom right: https://derbyshireterritorials.wordpress.com/5th-battalion-2/5th-battalion/

1915 and Harpenden. Possibly taken outside of the Battalion headquarters in autumn 1915. A picture of the Officers sat on the same steps was published in the Battalion History by L. W. de Grave in 1930. Interestingly, many of the men are wearing 3-tier Notts and Derby shoulder badges, which might indicate that they are new recruits. Sergeants Tom Ison and Bill Patrick are pictured. This post card was addressed to Ruby Ison at High Cross Banks in Castle Gresley but not posted.



(17/11/15 - I'm now 100% certain that this is an image of Bill Cope.)


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This image from Harpenden 1915 is Bill Cope.

Bill was also married to my great grandmother ~ Louisa Stocking and the wedding was registered in Burton upon Trent on the 24th Dec 1915.

There are also distinct similarities to the image compared to the photo I was given by Bill Cope's youngest son ~ Philip Graham Cope.

The hair, eyes, nose, ears mouth, moustache and body type are all identical.... He just looks a little flustered, but this was probably due to a hard day of digging trenches.

Please let me know what you think?


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I found this tonight in the 1941 Kelly's Directory for Ruby Ison, who is "Miss Ruby A Ison", a pianoforte teacher of Mount Pleasent, Castle Gresley.

The above photo is stated as being addressed to Ruby Ison, but not posted.

I found no sign of any Cope's, but Ison is also a family name I'm familiar with.

Charles Ison ( b ) 1773 Over White Acre, Warwickshire, was my 5th great grandfather, so this photo could be well worth looking into.

I can see that upon the https://derbyshireterritorials.wordpress.com/5th-battalion-2/5th-battalion/ there is a Thomas Charles Ison ( b ) 1885 Castle Gresley, but from what I can see, his ancestry came from Leicestershire, whereas my Ison ancestry came from Over Whitacre, Warwickshire... Maybe they are distant relations of the Ison surname? So far I cannot find a link...

I couldn't imagine Ruby and Bill Cope knowing each other as family though, mostly due to the time frame, but also due to the Ison/Cope family branches being so bluured.

So would Ruby A Ison have known the "Thomas Charles Ison" pictured in the photo? Or are these Ison's just Two different family lines living in the same area?


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OK, so after looking through a considerable amount of online Nott's and Derby photo's/documants and using the Derbyshire Territorials in The Great War site for reference (which is quite brilliant by the way).


I must make my priority the Aug 1915 Harpenden camp photo.

Mikebriggs, from what I can see you have a lot of dealings with this site (so if it's your baby, then very well done), but do you know where the original photo would be held?


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Hi Lee

Yes its my site and I have the original picture.

I'm a bit confused…….in your first post you said that your great grandfather was a miner and didn't serve in WW1.

Why do you think that he served in the Pre-War Territorials?

​Also the picture at Harpenden was taken in August/September 1914 - a few months before the Battalion went to France. If he was serving with the 1/5th Battalion at the time then he would have gone to France with them and served overseas.


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Thanks Mike,

I guess there is nothing written upon the rear of the photo either? Would anywhere hold nominal rolls of the servicemans names who are on this photo?

Philip Graham Cope (Ernest's youngest Son) remembers a lot from the past, but he was so young (4 years old) when his father passed away that he never heard mention of Bill serving in any Pre-War Territorials.

My grandfather Ernest Thomas Cope wrote the family history in an old Bible and that went over to Bermuda with a distant cousin.

So Bill Cope's younger days are a void apart from him being the groundskeeper at Gresley Rovers FC, and my family didn't even know that until an old copy of The Burton Mail Newspaper was posted to me.

Did Bill Cope serve in France with the local Territorial's, only to be sent home injured (then married)?

These are family questions that my family cannot answer, so it's turned into a bit of a quest. But this photo is a good place to begin, so I shall see where it leads.

Is there anything else you can tell me about the photo to shed some more light upon it please Mike.



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Hello folks,

This could be an interesting turn of events...

Today I made a Christmas visit to my granduncle Philip Graham Cope (Bill Cope's last living son) and sadly due to his sight failing him he couldn't make out the images I showed him. All very sad for this to happen to such a nice gentleman. :(

But one thing that we both agreed upon was that due to Graham only being Four years old when his father passed away, he couldn't positivly remember what his father Bill Cope did during 1914 - 1918.

Graham told me many tales about his father that his brothers passed onto him when he was young, which I listened to with much amazement ~ Such interesting times. :poppy:

I also managed to take a few photo's on my phone of some family photo's that Graham and his good lady wife Elaine had kept in a draw.

Upon the rear of one of the photo's of his mother Louisa Cope (nee Stocking) I saw something that could be of great interest....

I've attached the image of my great grandmother - Louisa Cope (nee Stocking) and I was wondering if you good folks could help me in looking into the numbers that have been written upon the rear of the photo.

The rear of the postcard is damaged, but the message seems to read:

25368 nL (is the nL a prefix?)


Is this just a post card mark? Or could this be a regimental number and a message of love from Ernest (Ernie) William (Bill) Cope to his wife Louisa Cope (nee Stocking) or vice versa?





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Here is a better look at the numbers.

Could the numbers and letters be a regimental number & prefix written by the hand of my great grandfather? I thought prefix letters went before the numbers?

25368 nL

N = National Reserve (East Surrey Regiment amongst others)

L = Regular enlistments. I have always assumed that L represents "Line" but I would be pleased to stand corrected. This prefix first starts appearing in 1902 and is found on regular enlistments into the following regiments: The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), East Surrey Regiment, Middlesex Regiment, Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment), Royal Fusiliers, Royal Sussex Regiment and the Royal West Kent Regiment. All of these regiments, with the exception of the Royal Fusiliers, formed the Number 10 Grouped Regimental District. My thanks to David Langley for his inputs on this prefix.

Courtesy of http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.co.uk/p/number-prefixes.html

Could this be correct?


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After looking at the number upon the back of my great grandmothers photo, it took my 14 yr old daughter to point out that the number isn't 25668 or 25768 at all.

It looks more like 25368...

Still yet to confirm if this is a regimental number though. :(

Does anyone know where I could find a Notts and Derby list of Territorial regimental numbers? I would be looking towards the 1915 Harpenden time frame.

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After looking at the number upon the back of my great grandmothers photo, it took my 14 yr old daughter to point out that the number isn't 25668 or 25768 at all.

It looks more like 25368...

Still yet to confirm if this is a regimental number though. :(

Does anyone know where I could find a Notts and Derby list of Territorial regimental numbers? I would be looking towards the 1915 Harpenden time frame.

25368 is to Pte John Whitehead, who served with the 9th and 10th Btns N&D's. I personally don't think that the number on your photo is a Regimental number I have seen many post cards and photo's with obscure numbers written on the back.

What I can tell you is that there was a 36357 Pte Ernest William Cope who enlisted into the Sherwood Foresters on the 11th December 1915 aged 27 years. He was serving with the 3rd Battalion on the 24th February 1916 with 'M' Company.

This man was posted to the 2/8th Battalion Royal Scots on the 14th April 1916 at some time he served with the 2/5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters. Have a look at the SWB Card for other details it also shows Leicestershire Regt. BRONNO.

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Ohhh, many thanks Bronno! I'll take a look. :)

OK, I've taken a look at these service records and medal card before. But now I'm looking at them in a different light.

Ernest William Cope's father was a William Watson, who at first denied being with Louisa Richardson Cope, resulting in the pregnancy.

After being born Ernest was sent away to live with his grandmother as his mother was only 18 yrs old, and his grandmother was named Ann Barwell (nee Haywood and briefly a Cope through marriage to a William Cope).

(After careful consideration and looking into the Ernest William Cope's service records who lived on Stanley Street, Derby.)

Could the person writing the paperwork for this Ernest William Cope, living on 44 Stanley Street, Derby in 1915 have misspelled the name "Barwell", and wrote "Buller" instead?

I do not believe this to be my Ernest William Cope, but it could be worth further research.

Thanks Bronno.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've looked into the WW1 Service records associated with post 15 and these are not the service records of my great grandfather.

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  • 4 months later...

Hello folks, I hope you are all having a good day. Recently I came across a photo provided by Mike Briggs of some Nott's & Derbyshire recruits that was taken in Harpenden late 1914.

This photo has my great grandfather on it and I've been searching high and low for his WW1 documents.

I think I've found him.... Sgt Ernest Cope 3756 & 266166. It appears that Ernest enlisted on the 01 Feb 1915 with the 7th reserve Nott's & Derbyshire, but for some reason he appears on the Harpenden photo late 1914?

On Ernest's service record he began with the 3/7th and then transfered to the 1/7th as a Sgt on the 01 Dec 1915.

A little more confusing is his marriage to my great grand mother 24 Dec 1915 even though Ernest was deployed to France 27 Oct 1915?

All a little confusing and although I have Ernest's service record, medal card and silver war badge number + the Harpenden photo, I was wondering if there was possibly more avenues I could look into or find lists of soldiers, predominantly coal miners recruited during these times in Nottingham & Derbyshire.


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Please could someone explain what these Two peices of text say?

Text One:Something has been crossed out....

Text Two:Something about the medical discharge....



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Just been informed that Ernest was wounded at the battle of Gommecourt 01st July 1916 and it was published in the Times newspaper.


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From LLT

1/5th Battalion

August 1914 : in Derby. Part of Notts. & Derby Brigade in the North Midland Division. Moved on mobilisation to Harpenden and went on in November 1914 to Braintree.

25 february 1915 : landed in France.

12 May 1915 : formation became the 139th Brigade in 46th (North Midland) Division.

1/6th Battalion

August 1914 : in Chesterfield. Record same as 1/5th Bn.

1/7th (Robin Hood) Battalion

August 1914 : in Nottingham. Record same as 1/5th Bn.

31 January 1918 : transferred to 178th Brigade in 59th (2nd North Midland) Division and absorbed 2/7th Bn; renamed 7th Bn.

7 May 1918 : reduced to cadre strength.

29 May 1918 : transferred to 30th Division.

19 June 1918 : transferred to 66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division.

15 August 1918 : transferred to 116th Brigade in 39th Division but remained near Etaples until the Armistice.

1/8th Battalion

August 1914 : in Newark. Record same as 1/5th Bn.

2/5th Battalion

Formed at Derby on 16 October 1914 as a second line unit.

Moved to Luton in January 1915 and placed under command of 2nd Notts. & Derby Brigade in the 2nd North Midland Division.

August 1915 : formation became the 176th Brigade, 59th (2nd North Midland) Division. Moved to Watford.

Moved to Ireland in April 1916 to quell disturbances.

Moved in January 1917 to Fovant and landed at Le Havre 26 February 1917.

7 May 1918 : reduced to cadre.

2 June 1918 : transferred to 16th (Irish) Division.

17 June 1918: transferred to 34th Division.

28 June 1918 : transferred to 117th Brigade in 39th Division.

3 August 1918 : disbanded in France.

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  • Admin

Just been informed that Ernest was wounded at the battle of Gommecourt 01st July 1916 and it was published in the Times newspaper. Is there a free newspaper search for the Times in which I can find this information?

Here in Sussex the East Sussex Library Service 'e-library' provide the facility to search the Times archive at home. I see Staffordshire libraries offer Newstand at home, whether or not this includes the Times Archive I don't know.

As for your crossed out entry the first line is 'Reverts to ?Private' 'on transfer to ???" As L/cpl was an appointment. rather than a promotion when a man transferred he usually lost his stripe although I see the next entry shows 'appointed' which means he got it back - you've not posted the dates but it looks like in fairly short order which is probably why the entry is deleted. i.e. he probably retained his stripe on transfer but without the full entry can't be certain.


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Many thanks, here are the complete documents....





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Just been passed some images and they are truly interesting! The image is of Sgt Ernest Cope and although he looks a lot younger without the moustache, you can see it's the same guy.

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Sgt Ernest Cope saved by his cigarette case and notebook..... WoW!!!!


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