In Memoriam: Maurice Lea Cooper

Photograph of Maurice Lea Cooper in uniform
Maurice Lea Cooper

Maurice Lea Cooper, of Co. Dublin, was killed in action in Belgium on the 2nd October, 1918, aged 19 years.

He was born on 18th December 1898 and attended Bootham School from 1914 to 1916. 

In the school Christmas Show of 1914. Maurice won Workshop prizes for Trouser Press and Turning.

The December 1915 issue of the school magazine, “Bootham”, contains the Aquatics Report:

“The Bedroom Team-Race Trophy, presented by the Oxford Branch of the O.Y.S.A., was won by No. VI., who possessed three youthful but speedy performers in E. M. Baker, O. Massingham and M. L. Cooper, and bettered last year’s time by 3-5ths of a second.”

He was also third in the Senior 25 yards.

The same issue also contains the report of the Christmas Show 1915.

“The five trouser-presses are carefully made and finished, Pumphrey’s and Cooper’s being the best. On the whole we are glad to have fewer of these than last year.”

Bootham Magazine of October 1916 has his “Bene Decessit” entry:

” M. L. COOPER leaves from the Lower Senior, after a stay of two years. He played on the 2nd cricket eleven, and obtained his colours on the 2nd football eleven. He was an able tennis player, and took an interest in the Workshop and Library.”

Maurice joined the Royal Naval Air Service in 1917. 

“Bootham” Magazine of May 1918 contains the “O.Y.S. War-time Service Lists”:

“Old York Scholars serving in the Navy and Army.

Cooper, M. L., Sec. Lieut., R.F.C “

and in the same issue, “Across the Months”:

“MAURICE L. COOPER (1914-16) says he is just about due for leave, “which is very bon. “He is “close to where Ronald Altham and Peter Wilson hang out.” “Glad to say the war suits me admirably—nothing to do, and all day to do it in ! as the weather is ‘ dud stuff ‘ for flying. Would really have written before but the inertia natural to man prevented me! “”

“Bootham” of July 1918  reports in “Across the Months”:

“M. L. COOPER (1913-16). Congratulations. We understand that forty-two flying men have been decorated with the new Distinguished Flying Cross. The first Irishman in the number is Lieutenant M. L. Cooper, R.A.F., for “acts of gallantry when flying on active operations against the enemy. “The portrait is good in the Motor News, June 22nd.”

Then in “Bootham” December 1918 we see under “Deaths”:

“COOPER.—On 2nd October, 1918, killed in the air over Belgium, Maurice Lea Cooper, of Glenageary, near Dublin (1914-16), aged 20.”

“Bootham” of April 1919 has his, “In Memoriam”:

“MAURICE LEA COOPER (1914-16) came to Bootham in September, 1914, and stayed two years. He was not a boy of great intellectual ability, and left from the lower senior.
His leisure time was spent in the workshop in winter and in tennis and swimming in summer. At the one length he was only beaten by boys above the average of Bootham’s best. 
We shall always remember him for his engaging manners and affectionate good nature—an Irish generosity which was ready to give of its best without stint. To those who knew him the gallant story of his death on October 2nd, 1918, would cause admiration and perhaps a little envy, but no surprise. He had won captain’s rank and the Distinguished FIying Cross, and was enjoying a well-earned rest behind the lines, when news came that his squadron was hard pressed. He begged so earnestly to be sent back that his Major, knowing the value of such an example, could not refuse his request; and so, not only not grudging the first “mile,” but gladly going the “twain,” he met his death. As an epitaph suggesting at once his generous good nature and his healthy enjoyment of life, we may quote the words—scrawled with a burnt stick in July, 1914, across the cellar wall at Kendal, whence he proceeded to Bootham— 

” On the whole sorry to leave.” ”

Captain Maurice Lea Cooper is buried at Dadizeele New British Cemetery, Flanders.

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