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Jesse Cooper (1869-1952?)

Guard at Stanhope prisoner of war camp

Jesse Cooper was born in Witney, Oxfordshire but seems to have spent most of his adult life in South Hampstead, Middlesex, London. By 1911, Jesse was living with his wife, Mary, and their four children at 25 Fairfax Place, South Hampstead. His occupation is recorded as being a milk man.

Jesse attested on 28 May 1915, even though he was 46 years of age. He was originally enlisted with the 18th City of London Regiment, 22nd Supernumerary Company. Supernumerary companies were established in May 1915 in order to guard “railways and other vulnerable points” (Army Order 187). They were superseded when the Royal Defence Corps (RDC) was founded by Royal Warrant on 17 March 1916. The RDC was formed of companies, which were designated either “Protection Companies” or “Observer Companies”. The work of the Protection Companies included guarding prisoner of war camps at home. Jesse was briefly transferred to the 200th and then 158th Protection Company, before being transferred to the 160th, which appears to have guarded the prisoner of war camps in County Durham.

Unfortunately, his service record does not contain much information about the time that he spent in County Durham during the First World War. However, they do record that he was admitted to 1st Northern General Hospital in Newcastle on 14 February 1917, where he spent 56 days recovering from an operation on his haemorrhoids. Although there is no direct evidence as to which of the camps he helped to guard, he was examined at Stanhope on 5 February 1919, just prior to demobilisation.

The Long Long Trail, page on Royal Defence Corps:

Civil Parish: Stanhope

Birth date: 1869

Death date: 1952

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Witney, Oxfordshire (birthplace)
6 Grove Place, Hampstead (marriage entry, 1891)
25 Fairfax Place, Hampstead (1911 census)

Employment: Milkman (marriage entry, 1891)
Milkman (1901 census)
Dairyman, assistant (1911 census)

Family: Wife: Mary Cooper nee Goodman Horne
Children: Joseph Jesse Cooper, Wiliam George Cooper, Elizabeth Rose Mary (also Lizzie) Cooper, Nellie Cooper, Edith Annie (also Edie) Cooper, Florence Mabel Cooper (1901 and 1911 censuses, army service record)

Military service:

Enlisted 28 May 1915
18th City of London Regiment, 22nd Supernumerary Company
Regimental numbers: 20962, 47323
Attached 107th P[rovisional] B[attalion?]: 13 October 1915
Transferred to Royal Defence Corps, 200th Protection Company: 22 August 1916
Renumbered: 37942
158th Protection Company: 30 August 1916
160th Protection Company: 28 October 1916
Demoblised: 7 March 1919

Gender: Male

Contributed by Durham County Record Office

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