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In the scrapbook of First World War newspaper cuttings we hold in the archives, there is an article dated 9 November 1914, entitled “Gallant Tettenhall Soldier’s Death”. The article states that John Cooper, an old boy of Tettenhall Church School and a member of the 1st Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment had been killed. His address was given as Nursery Walk, Tettenhall. The news came in a letter from the wife of a major of Cooper’s regiment, which was sent to his parents, and stated “Be grateful that you had such a son to be proud of.” However, in handwriting around the newspaper cutting are the following words:

This report proved later to be incorrect. The man writing home to say he was a prisoner in hospital at Lille. No official news of his death had ever been received.

The Prisoner of War records of the ICRC do include a John Cooper of the 1st Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, but his home town appears to be Brewood (written phoenetically “Brood”, presumably to German ears) so this may not be the same man. However, another reference from the same index card takes us to a list of prisoners in hospital in Lille, which confirms the above information. It lists John Cooper as in the C Company of the 1st Battalion, he is of “Bonne santé” (good health), and his next of kin is given as M. J. Cooper, Nursery Walk, Nursery Terrace, Tetenhall [sic], Nr Whampton. This is definitely the same man, so it is possible that the two references on the John Cooper index card actually refer to different men by the same name.