Archibald Cooper

J2054 Leading Seaman Herbert Archibald Sidney Cooper, Royal Navy

Born on 10th October 1892 in Fulham
Died on 3rd January 1922 on board ship at Antigua

Family and Home 1, 2, 3

Herbert Archibald Sidney Cooper was born in Fulham, London, the youngest of the four children of James William Cooper and Martha née Dibben. His father was a Sergeant in the Royal Marine Artillery.

His siblings were: Winifred Sarah, born 22nd January 1887; Catherine Annie, born 31st March 1888 and William Ernest Cooper, born 13th September 1891.

Death of Archibald’s Father 4

Archibald’s father, James William Cooper, died on 30th November 1898, at which time the family lived at 15 Francis Crescent, Heidelberg Road, Southsea, Hampshire.

Moving to Little Gaddesden 5, 6

Archibald’s family moved to Little Gaddesden in 1901. His mother’s older sister Louisa, who had married John Young, lived at 43 Little Gaddesden. In the 1901 Census, his mother, his brother William Cooper and his sister Winifred lived at The Convalescent Home, 7 Hudnall, where his mother had become Matron. His sister Catherine was staying with her uncle and aunt, the Youngs at 43 Little Gaddesden. Archibald’s brother William Cooper started at Little Gaddesden School on 11th March. Archibald has not been found in the 1901 Census, nor in the Little Gaddesden School Log Book.

Joining the Royal Navy 1

On 9th May 1908, 15 year old Archibald joined the Royal Navy as a Boy Sailor, 2nd Class. He was 5 feet 2½ inches tall with a 31½ inch chest; he had brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. His previous occupation is recorded as “G.H. School”.

Details of his service as a Boy Sailor were:

  • 9th May 1908 to 12th June 1908 – Boy Sailor 2nd Class at the shore training establishment HMS Ganges at Shotley near Ipswich
  • 13th June 1908 to 30th September 1908 – Boy Sailor 2nd Class aboard the training ship HMS Impregnable at Devonport
  • 1st October 1908 to 14th May 1909 – Boy Sailor 1st Class aboard  the training ship HMS Impregnable
  • 15th May 1909 to 9th September 1909 – Boy Sailor 1st Class aboard HMS Leviathan, an armoured cruiser
  • 10th September 1909 to 2nd November 1909 – Boy Sailor 1st Class at HMS Pembroke, a shore barracks at Chatham
  • 3rd November 1909 to 15th March 1910 – Boy Sailor 1st Class aboard HMS Perseus
  • 16th March 1910 – 21st October 1910 – Boy Sailor 1st Class aboard HMS Hyacinth, a protected cruiser, at that time the flagship for the East Indies Station.

Signing up for 12 Years’ Service 1

On 22nd October 1910, 18 year old Archibald signed up for 12 years’ service in the Royal Navy. By this time he was 5 feet 7½ inches tall with a 34 inch chest and a sallow complexion.

He continued to serve aboard HMS Hyacinth, first as an Ordinary Seaman, then, from 25th May 1911, as an Able Seaman. HMS Hyacinth returned home for a refit and, from 3rd June 1911 until 29th January 1912, Archibald was at HMS Pembroke, Chatham.

The Cooper Family in 1911 1, 5

In the 1911 Census, Archibald’s mother Martha is still recorded as the Matron of the Convalescent Home at Hudnall with his sister Winifred as her Assistant. His sister Catherine was a Housemaid at Heydon, Royston and his brother William Cooper a Coach Builder in Bedford.

The remainder of Archibald’s pre-War Naval Service was as follows:

  • 30th January 1912 to 19th March 1912 – Able Seaman aboard HMS Hawke
  • 20th March 1912 to 18th March 1914 – Able Seaman aboard HMS Robin
  • 19th March 1914 to 15th May 1914 – Able Seaman aboard HMS Doris
  • 16th May 1914 to 5th June 1914 – Able Seaman aboard HMS Vivid
  • 6th June 1914 to 19th August 1914 – Able Seaman at HMS Pembroke I, Chatham

War Service 1, 7, 8, 9, 10

From 20th August 1914 to 5th June 1918, Archibald served as an Able Seaman aboard HMS Sentinel, which was a Sentinel Class Scout Cruiser. Early in the War, she joined the 8th Destroyer Flotilla in the Firth of Forth. However, by June 1915 she was temporarily attached to the 6th Light Cruiser Squadron in the Humber, guarding against Zeppelin raids. In 1916 she joined the Mediterranean Fleet and, in 1918, moved to the Aegean.

However, in June 1918, Archibald returned to HMS Pembroke I, Chatham, where on 11th October 1918, he was promoted to Leading Seaman. For his War Service, Archibald was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. In Autumn 1918, he was an Absent Voter of 4 Hudnall, where his mother then lived.

Death of his Brother William 11

Archibald’s brother, 2170 Gunner William Ernest Cooper of “D” Battery, 59th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, was killed in action aged 26 on 23rd September 1917. He is buried at Gwalia Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”

Archibald Cooper is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. His entry reads Cooper Archibald, Royal Navy. He is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll. Also listed are his brother William Cooper, Royal Field Artillery, and his cousin Reginald Young, Army Service Corps, Mechanical Transport.

Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver

Marriage 12

From 18th November to 31st December 1918, Archibald served as a Leading Seaman aboard HMS Apollo (Midge). However, between 1st January and 30th June 1919, he was again based at HMS Pembroke, Chatham and, during this period in England, he married Elsie May Furlong, 27, a widow and daughter of Joseph Seels, Regimental Sergeant Major. Elsie’s address was 24. H. Lewis Buildings, Chelsea, believed to be the Samuel Lewis Trust Dwellings in Ixworth Place. The marriage took place on 14th May 1919 at St Luke’s Church, Chelsea.

Returning to Sea 1, 13, 14

6 weeks after his marriage, Archibald returned to sea aboard the light cruiser HMS Champion, on which he served from 1st July 1919 to 31st August 1920. He then had 4 months at HMS Pembroke I at Chatham before leaving again aboard HMS Valerian, a Fleet Minesweeping Sloop, on 29th December 1920. That voyage, based off North America and the West Indies, was to be his last. On 3rd January 1922, 29 year old Leading Seaman Herbert Archibald Sidney Cooper died on board ship at Antigua.

The ship’s log for 3rd January records the following:

  • 0200 “1 Leading Seaman d.d.” (declared dead).
  • 1120 “Exercised funeral party
  • 1400 “Landed funeral party
  • 1500 “Half-masted colours
  • 1600 “Re-hoisted colours
  • 1730 “Funeral party returned on board

The entry for Archibald’s death in the British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records gives the cause of his death as “bullet wound, self-inflicted”, adding that his widow Elsie was informed.


1. Royal Navy Seamen 1899-1919

2. England & Wales births 1837-2006 Transcriptions and pdf copy of brother William Cooper’s Birth Certificate

3. The 1939 Register

4. National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) 1858 – 1995

5.  1901 – 1911 England, Wales & Scotland Census Transcriptions

6. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934



9. UK, Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972

10. 1918-21 Absent Voters’ Lists Parliamentary County of Hertford, Hemel Hempstead Division, Little Gaddesden


12. London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1932


14. UK, British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960

Do you have any questions about the information recorded here? Or do you have any further information that you can share with us about those from Little Gaddesden who died or fought for their country? In either case, please contact Jane Dickson at

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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson