|Date of Birth||July 4, 1886|
|Place of Birth||Styal, Cheshire|
|Next of Kin||Mrs. Mary Ann Arrowsmith (mother), Grove St., Wilmslow, Cheshire, England|
|Trade / Calling||Locomotive Engineer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||3rd Divisional Engineers|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||December 21, 1914|
|Age at Enlistment||28|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||October 8, 1916|
|Age at Death||30|
|Buried At||Dead Man's Valley near Courcelette, France; commemorated on Vimy Memorial|
The Somme Offensive was a series of battles that lasted from July to November 1916 and resulted in enormous casualties for both sides. The Canadian Corps moved to the Somme area in late August and their first major engagement began in mid-September. Second Corporal Arthur Cooper was killed on 8 October near Courcelette, one of 24,000 casualties suffered by the Canadians in their 2-1/2 months at the Somme.
Arthur was born on 4 July 1886 in Styal, a small village in the county of Cheshire in England. At the time of the 1891 census, at age 4, he was living in Styal with his mother Mary Ann Cooper, his widowed grandmother Hannah and an aunt. Mary Ann became a butcher, a trade she may have learned from her uncle Benjamin Cooper who was a master butcher. She had worked for Benjamin as a domestic servant before Arthur was born. In 1909, when she was 50 years old, Mary Ann married John William Arrowsmith who was also a butcher and they settled in Wilmslow, about 5 km from Styal. John was a widow before they were married and he had one child from his previous marriage, his daughter Lilian.
Arthur served for three years with the 4th Cheshire Regiment, probably starting around 1904 when he was 18 years old. Afterwards he immigrated to Canada and by the time the war started he was living in Kenora, Ontario and working for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). He enlisted in Kenora on 21 December 1914, four months after the war started, when local volunteers were being recruited for a third overseas contingent. The men were briefly attached to the 44th Battalion but in mid-March 1915 the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion was organized and they were transferred to the new unit. The 52nd was based in Port Arthur and Arthur was sent there in June 1915 along with the rest of the Kenora volunteers. While they were training the 1st Canadian Division was fighting in France and Belgium. Men were needed to replace casualties in the front line combat units and battalions in Canada were asked to send reinforcements. Arthur was sent to England in September 1915 with the 2nd Reinforcing Draft, one of 250 recruits from the 52nd Battalion.
After a few more months of training the men in the 2nd Reinforcing Draft were assigned to new units. In November Arthur became an Acting Sergeant and in February 1916 he was transferred to the Canadian Engineer Training Depot. He was sent to France two months later with the 7th Field Company, 3rd Canadian Divisional Engineers, and by his own request reverted to 2nd Corporal. His unit left Folkestone, Kent on 2 April and boarded their ship in Southampton later the same day. They were turned back on the way to Le Havre, possibly due to German submarines, but they landed there safely on their second attempt on 7 April. Two days later they arrived in Poperinghe, Belgium and they spent the next few months in the Ypres Salient. In late August and early September the Canadian Divisions were moved to the Somme area in France. Arthur was out of action for two weeks, being treated for a wound to his foot, and he rejoined his unit at the end of September near the village of Courcelette. At the time the Canadians were involved in the assault on Regina Trench, part of the Somme Offensive. The operation would last until November and cost the Canadian Corps over 24,000 casualties. Arthur was one of the fallen, killed in action on 8 October while working on a trench.
From the War Diary of the 7th Battalion Canadian Engineers: ‘Work report 7th Field Co, Oct 8th/9th 1916 – Night Work – Lts. Worsley & Mason with two Sections worked in improving a jumping off trench ‘in conjunction with about 200 men of the 1st Pioneers . . . Casualties: 2/Cpl Cooper – Killed.‘
According to the CEF Commonwealth War Graves Register Arthur was buried in Dead Man’s Valley near Courcelette but after the war his grave could not be identified. He is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial, which bears the names of more than 11,000 Canadians who died in France and have no known grave. Arthur is also commemorated on the Kenora Cenotaph, the Kenora Legion War Memorial, the War Memorial in Wilmslow, Cheshire and the Roll of Honour for the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. During the war over 11,000 CPR employees enlisted and 1,116 of them gave their lives.
By Becky Johnson