Herbert Walters Cooper




Sep 17, 1885

Born at Birkenhead England


Nov 3, 1914

Attested into the 21st Battalion at Kingston Ontario 

Ø      Given rank of Lieutenant

Ø      Next of kin given as Mrs Mary Cameron Cooper (wife) of Springhill Mines, Nova Scotia

o       Also a notation to notify J Cooper (brother) of 39 Rielle Ave, Verdun Quebec

Ø      Previous occupation given as Secretary

Ø      Previous military experience given as 5 years in the 1st Cheshire Regiment and 1 year, 10 months in the 46th Regiment, Canadian Militia

Ø      Religion given as Church of England

Ø      Assigned to “G” Company


Feb 11, 1915

Shown on 21st Battalion payroll as being promoted to rank of Captain


May 6, 1915

Embarked the RMS Metagama at Montreal Quebec



May 15, 1915

Disembarked at Devonport England and proceeded to West Sandling Camp, near Hythe, Kent


Sep 14, 1915

Embarked the St Seiriol at Folkestone



Sep 15, 1915

Disembarked at Boulogne France


Oct 15, 1915

To be Temporary Captain, confirmed in London Gazette January 11, 1916


Nov 4, 1915

Admitted to DRS (Divisional Rest Station) at Mount Noir with an infected toe on left foot


Nov 10, 1915

Returned to duty


Nov 29, 1915

Attended the Trench Warfare School


Feb 14, 1916

Granted leave of absence


May 24, 1916

Admitted to No 5 CFA (Canadian Field Ambulance) with PUO (Pyrexia of Unknown Origin) which is a fever


May 31, 1916

Transferred to No 12 CCS (Casualty Clearing Station)


Jun 1, 1916

Transferred to No 14 General Hospital at Boulogne and diagnosed with Pyrexia – Pyorrhoea Alveolaris (an inflammation of the gums)


Jun 12, 1916

Returned to duty


Jul 1, 1916

To be Temporary Major while Commanding a Company


Aug 18, 1916

Change of address for wife filed showing new address as 18 Bromley Ave., Greenbank Rd., Liverpool England


Oct 24, 1916

Granted leave until November 3, 1916


Dec 6, 1916

Attached to the Composite Battalion


Feb 5, 1917

Granted 10 days leave


Feb 17, 1917

Reported to be Absent Without Leave,  

This entry was later cancelled, I assume because a legitimate reason was provided on return.


Feb 22, 1917

Returned from leave


May 2, 1917

Admitted to No 22 CCS NYD (Not Yet Determined) illness


May 4, 1917

Transferred via No 21 AT (Ambulance Transport) and admitted to No 30 General Hospital at Calais – diagnosed as PUO (Pyrexia of Unknown Origin), a fever


May 13, 1917

Discharged from hospital to duty at CBD (Canadian Base Depot)


May 18, 1917

At duty from the Training Company


Jun 1, 1917

Mentioned In Despatches London Gazette #30107


Sep 10, 1917

Granted 10 days leave


Sep 21, 1917

Returned from leave


Sep 23, 1917

At duty with the 21st Battalion


Dec 21, 1917

Granted 14 days leave


Jan 12, 1918

Leave extended to January 17, 1918


Jan 19, 1918

Rejoined unit from leave


Mar 1, 1918

Granted 14 days leave


Mar 14, 1918

To be Temporary Major with seniority from February 24, 1918, London Gazette #30669


Mar 16, 1918

Returned from leave


Apr 1, 1918

Wounded slightly and remained at duty


Apr 3, 1918

Admitted to No 6 CFA with shrapnel wound to head and transferred to the CCS and then transferred to No 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital at Doullens where he was treated and released the same day


Apr 18, 1918

Change of address for wife filed showing new address as 4 Ash Road, Tranmere, Birkenhead, England


Jun 9, 1918

Seconded to the War Office London and attached to the 3rd Army Infantry School as an assistant instructor on probation


Jul 13, 1918

Granted 14 days leave


Aug 31, 1918

Reported wounded


Nov 26, 1918

Granted 14 days leave


Dec 10, 1918

Detached to the EORD Witley, on being retained in England for duty


Dec 11, 1918

TOS EORD on posting from 21st Battalion and detached to Kinmell Park for duty


Jan 24, 1919

Assumes Command of HQ Company, Rhyl


Feb 1, 1919

To Command No 10 MD Wing, Rhyl 

To be Acting Lieut-Col while in Command


Apr 5, 1919

Awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre, London Gazette #31275



Jul 2, 1919

Granted indefinite leave pending recall by HQ Kinmell Park, Rhyl 

Relinquishes rank of A/Lt-Col on ceasing to Command MD #10 Camp Rhyl


Jul 4, 1919

Recalled from indefinite leave and ceases to be attached to MD #10 Rhyl on being returned to EORD.


Aug 30, 1919

Ceases to be on leave and posted to R Wing 


To Buxton on indefinite leave


Sep 19, 1919

SOS OMFC (Overseas Military Force of Canada) and embarked the HMT Baltic at Liverpool (Sailing Number D51)


He was accompanied by his wife 

TOS MD #6 (Military District HQ at Halifax)


Sep 26, 1919

Disembarked at Halifax Nova Scotia


Oct 6, 1919

SOS the CEF on being discharged at Halifax Nova Scotia 

Ø      Discharged on General Demobilization

Ø      Proposed residence on discharge – Springhill Nova Scotia



British War Medal and Victory Medal sent to PO Box 326, Springhill Nova Scotia 

Date not shown in file


Herbert Cooper was employed in the Penitentiary system after the war.  What follows is a report of an inquiry held at a British Columbia prison that was looking into the death of a prisoner.   This report is held in the BC Archives.


Harry Davis (1877 - 1927)

Harry Davis was born in Peterborough, Ontario on June 10, 1877. Penitentiary records indicated Mr. Davis was a widower with two children, and listed his occupation as cook.

On June 21, 1926 Mr. Davis was convicted in the Yukon Territorial Court of manslaughter for having killed a trapper, Charles E. Smith, "at a point on the Yukon River below Selkirk, on or about February 12, 1926". Mr. Davis' conviction was unusual in that the victim's body was never found, and there were no eye witnesses to the killing. Nonetheless, Mr. Davis was sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour for "the term of his natural life" (a true life sentence), to be served in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police penitentiary at Dawson, Yukon Territory. For reasons unknown, Mr. Davis was transferred to the B.C. Penitentiary on August 4, 1926.

Mr. Davis died of acute congestion of the lungs brought on by exposure on March 5, 1927. A Coroner's inquest was held by New Westminster Coroner Edwin Howard McEwen on March 7, 1927. Witnesses at the inquest were B.C. Penitentiary warden Herbert Walters Cooper, penitentiary physician Thomas Bennett Green, penitentiary guard Robert Craig and City of New Westminster pathologist George Purvis, each of whom was questioned by New Westminster Chief of Police G. Bradshaw.

The near breathless and somewhat defensive testimony of Warden Cooper at the inquest described Davis as a known "malingerer" who was suspected of repeatedly feigning insanity for the purpose of effecting a transfer to a provincial mental hospital. Warden Cooper's testimony, consistent with that of Dr. Green, was that on Friday evening, March 4, 1927, Davis had been placed in an isolation cell (the reason for this punishment was not provided). According to both men's testimony, each visited Davis in this cell several times over the ensuing twelve hours. During these visits both Warden Cooper and Dr. Green noticed that Davis had -- apparently of his own volition -- removed most or all of his clothing (Warden Cooper elaborated, providing bizarre and seemingly irrelevant detail about the size and degree of engorgement of Davis' penis, and noting that he suspected Davis of being a "sex pervert"). But neither Warden Cooper nor Dr. Green were concerned about Davis' nudity, since conditions in the isolation cell were described as unusually warm ("there is a booster in there to boost heat to the wing"). Warden Cooper's testimony later introduced an element of confusion as to the reason for Davis' nudity, when he referenced concerns about Davis as a suicide risk (an assessment with which Dr. Green did not concur).

Less than twelve hours later, Davis was dead of exposure. Dr. Green testified that he received a telephone call from Night Keeper Douglass, and that when Dr. Green arrived at the penitentiary he found Davis lying "on the boards" covered with blankets, his body freezing, his breathing shallow and his pulse unnaturally slow. Dr. Green prescribed application of artificial heat, so Davis was taken to the penitentiary kitchen and placed in a bed close to the kitchen stove, surrounded by hot water bottles. Despite these efforts, Davis died several hours later.

The testimony of the City of New Westminster pathologist, George Purvis, as to the cause of Mr. Davis' death was brief and to the point: exposure had led to the fatal congestion of both Mr. Davis' lungs. The Coroner questioned both Warden Cooper and the penitentiary guard, Robert Craig, as to whether Davis was subjected to "any other punishments", "anything ... other than what was humane, or by the Doctor's orders", but both men responded in the negative.

Some may find the findings of the Coroner's jury difficult to reconcile with the many questions left unanswered by the inquest:

We the undersigned jury, empanelled to enquire into the circumstances touching the death of Harry Davis do find --

That the deceased came to his death around 5 a.m. March 5, 1927 in the Penitentiary Hospital, City of New Westminster, Westminster County B.C. as a result of acute congestion of the lungs brought on by him exposing himself --

We consider that every precaution regarding this man's welfare was taken by the Surgeon in charge and the officials and staff of the Penitentiary and we commend them for their patience and care.

As a postscript, Dr. Purvis' post-mortem examination of Harry Davis yielded the unexpected information that Mr. Davis had been suffering from a brain tumor "about the size of a small Jap orange". Dr. Purvis testified that while this tumor had not caused Mr. Davis' death, it "may have been the foundation of his criminal career and mental condition".

Mr. Davis was buried in the Protestant section of the B.C. Penitentiary on March 9, 1927.

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