Samuel Cooper and Robert Draycott - Two Soldiers from Sheffield

In November my co-author Matthew Bell contacted me and said that a colleague of his had memorabilia dating from the First World War about his Great-Grandfather SAMUEL COOPER

"He joined the East Yorks despite being from Sheffield and survived the Somme. He was wounded twice and after the second time volunteered to go back as a stretcher bearer with the RAMC. He is seated in the photo... the other man is called Draycott, whose service number is two different and who was killed".


Samuel was born in Hathersage Derbyshire in 1890

The 1891 UK Census shows a one year old Samuel living in Hathersage with his parents JAMES and RUTH


Ten years later the family, like many others, had moved to Sheffield and were living in the Park district of Sheffield.

By 1911 the family had moved to 26 Norwich Street but that also was in the Park District. Samuel still lived with his parents but was working as a coal filler in a coal mine 

Unfortunately I have been unable to locate Samuels service record but have been supplied with this information by his descendent

"On July 1st 1916, my Great Grandfather, Private Sam Cooper, was with the 7th Battalion, The East Yorkshire Regiment opposite the town of Fricourt. To the north were the British lines, including many of the 'Pals' regiments, to the east were the French army. From going over the top, I believe the regiment lost around 123 killed and wounded in 3 minutes or so. Fricourt was the first part of the British line where the British broke through and, on July 2nd, Sam's battalion reached Fricourt Wood, which had been heavily shelled by the British and largely destroyed; they found a single tree that had survived the carnage largely undamaged, and some of them cut a branch as a good luck token. Sam carried this with him for the rest of the war, surviving going over the top 21 times, though being wounded twice and ending the war in the medical corps. The stick has been made into a swagger stick, complete with silver 1916 3d piece in the handle. The stick bears a couple of small scars from shrapnel and has now been passed on to my son, along with Sam's campaign medals and other memorabilia 


His colleague and friend Robert Draycott was 7 years younger than Samuel. He was born in Beeston Nottinghamshire but he must have moved at an early age  - the 1901 Census finds him living with his parents in Eastleigh Hampshire with his parents ROBERT and ELIZA. His father ROBERT was a railway wagon builder

Ten years later the family were back in Beeston Nottinghamshire but this time his father was employed as a cabinet maker. Robert was employed as a gardener.

However unlike Samuel I have been able to obtain Robert's service record. Robert was a miner in Sheffield prior to joining up and like many miners he did not waste anytime in joining up (my grandfather signed up on the same day as Robert). He gave his address as Kirby Road Darnall Sheffield which meant that the family must have moved to Sheffield at sometime between 1911 - 1914.

Robert though enlisted on 3rd September 1914, did not go to France until 13th July the following year. He remained their until 10th July 1916 where he sustained a "gunshot to the upper extremities" and was evacuated back to England to recover from his wounds. He went back to France on 4th March 1917 but less than two months later he was "killed in action." The service record gives no further details but they did not find Robert's body and he is remembered on the Arras Memorial. He was just 19 years of age at the time of his death. I should add that he was a "bit of a lad" - his service record shows a few instances where Robert was late in returning from leave and incurred the wrath of his superiors. The last offence on New Years Day 1917 earned Robert 28 days detention which seems to indicate a growing sense of displeasure towards Robert by the Army but they need not have concerned themselves. He was killed within five months!  



Rank: Private
Service No:13203
Date of Death: 21/04/1917
Age: 19
Regiment/Service: East Yorkshire Regiment 7th Bn. 
Panel Reference: Bay 4 and 5. Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL
Additional Information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. R. A. Draycott, of 55, Kirby Rd., Darnall, Sheffield

Robert was also remembered on the war memorial of Holy Trinity Church Darnall Sheffield. The church was demolished quite a few years back and in the course of the demolition, the  memorial disappeared.! If you can supply any information on its fate and/or whereabouts, please contact me. Any further information on either Samuel and Robert would also be most welcome 

I first posted this article in November 2014, and three months later I received the following e-mail from one of Samuel's descendents

"I had a family tree given to me as a wedding present a few years ago and I've been looking into hackle pin grinders in the Hathersage area as a few of my ancestors were in the trade. A related google search today found this page -

I phoned my mother to check dates and it is information about my great-grandfather, who I only remember as an old man in my childhood. Sam and his wife Annie were alive when I was just old enough to form memories. My mother (cc'ed on here) may be able to help you with information about his later life, if you're interested.

Sam had two children; Ruth (my grandmother aged 9 months on the 1911 census) and Annie (named after Sam's wife who's 19 on the same census)...."

A couple of days after this mail, I received another mail but this time it was a descendent of Robert

"I've just found your webpage while hunting for information on my Great grand Uncle Robert Draycott. I have very little information about him and have never seen a picture until finding your page.

The information you have posted, corroborates information I have but you know far more than I did. Thank you so much for making the webpage and posting information about my relative, I have so much more information to go on now.

I believe, but not certain, that my Grandma had a grave number for Robert Draycott; if we should come across it again in our search I will let you know."

Needless to say I put all the parties in contact with one another.

"A quick thanks for helping in solving the (100 year old) mystery of who ‘Kemmy’ was. From being young and first seeing the photograph of Sam and ‘Kemmy’ I wondered who he was. As I grew older and became interested in the Great War and Sam’s part in it I became more and more determined to find out who Sam’s best friend really was, and to make sure he was remembered as a real person, rather than just being a young man in an old photo. My many, many hours work going through every casualty that the 7th East Yorkshires sustained in WW1 in an attempt to pin down who he was has paid off, thanks to your putting the Sam Cooper and Robert Draycott information on your web site – and it being found by Robert’s family.

I have been in regular contact over the past few days with two generations of the family, and they are sure that the photograph is of their relative."


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

UK Census

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This page was last updated on 10/02/15 15:22