James Cooper VC
Name: James Cooper
Conflict: Peacetime – Island of Little Andaman
Gazetted: December 17, 1867
Place/date of birth: Birmingham, Warwickshire/circa 1841
Rank when awarded VC (and later highest rank): Private
Date of bravery: May 7, 1867
London Gazette citation:
Private James Cooper, 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment
For the very gallant and daring manner in which, on the 7th of May, 1867, they risked their lives in manning a boat and proceeding through a dangerous surf to the rescue of some of their comrades, who formed part of an expedition which had been sent to the Island of Little Andaman, by order of the Chief Commissioner of British Burmah, with the view of ascertaining the fate of the Commander and seven of the crew of the ship “Assam Valley,” who had landed there, and were supposed to have been murdered by the natives.
The officer who commanded the troops on the occasion reports: “About an hour later in the day Dr. Douglas, 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment, and the four Privates referred to, gallantly manning the second gig, made their way through the surf almost to the shore, but finding their boat was half filled with water, they retired. A second attempt made by Dr. Douglas and party proved successful, five of us being safely passed through the surf to the boats outside. A third and last trip got the whole of the party left on shore safe to the boats.”
It is stated that Dr. Douglas accomplished these trips through the surf to the shore by no ordinary exertion. He stood in the bows of the boat, and worked her in an intrepid and seamanlike manner, cool to a degree, as if what he was then doing was an ordinary act of every-day life. The four Privates behaved in an equally cool and collected manner, rowing through the roughest surf when the slightest hesitation or want of pluck on the part of any one of them would have been attended by the gravest results. It is reported that seventeen officers and men were thus saved from what must otherwise have been a fearful risk, if not certainty of death.
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Other decorations: N/A
Place/date of death: Birmingham, Warwickshire/October 9, 1882
Grave/memorials: Plaque at Warstone Lane Cemetery, Hockley, Birmingham, dedicated in 2003
Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased privately, 2021
Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum