George was the son of a carrier, and seems to have started work at age 13. He survived many battles but died at 20 in the trenches near Ypres.
Eldest son of a carrier
George James Cooper was born at Murcott in 1897/8. He was the third child and eldest son of George W and Mary Cooper, who went on to have three more children. George senior was a carrier, and his brother’s son Arthur was also remembered on the Murcott memorial.
Already working at age 13?
In 1911 George junior’s two older sisters were doing ‘domestic work’. He was aged 13 and probably working informally. The family were still at Murcott, on the edge of marshy Otmoor.
Joined the Ox and Bucks
After war broke out George joined the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry as a Private. His battalion may have been the 2/4th, a territorial unit which recruited many local men including Albert Honour, also named on the Murcott memorial. At some point George transferred to the 11th Battalion of the Royal West Surrey Regiment. Both battalions reached France in May 1916 and fought at the Somme.
Sent to Italy
During 1917 the 11th West Surreys fought at Messines, Pilckem Ridge and the Battle of Menin Road. In November they were sent to Italy to the River Piave. But they were back in France by February 1918 and fought at St Quentin and Arras.
Died near Ypres
Having survived so much, George died in the trenches near Ypres between major engagements. He was one of eight men killed by artillery fire on the morning of 26 May 1918, apparently soon after promotion to Lance Corporal. He was aged 20, and was buried at Gwalia Cemetery, Belgium.