LIEUTENANT COLONEL NEVILLE BOWES ELLIOTT-COOPER VC, DSO, MC
11TH FEBRUARY 1918 AGE 29
BURIED: HAMBURG CEMETERY, GERMANY
The day Neville Elliott-Cooper was taken prisoner was the day he earned his Victoria Cross and the day he received the wound from which he died just over two months later. Two days before his VC was announced in the London Gazette.
Elliott-Cooper, a regular soldier who passed out of Sandhurst in 1908, was a lieutenant at the outbreak of war. On 14 May 1916 he was awarded a Military Cross for successfully taking and holding a section of the Hohenzollern Redoubt at Chord. He was promoted to Captain.
On 17 July 1917 he earned a DSO for rallying his battalion and leading a patrol that captured vital information and twenty German prisoners. He was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel. On 30 November 1917, his VC citation records how on "hearing that the enemy had broken through our outpost line, he rushed out of his dug-out, and on seeing them advancing across the open he mounted the parapet and dashed forward calling on the Reserve Company and details of the Battalion Headquarters to follow".
Although unarmed he made straight for the enemy and under his direction they were driven back. However, before long he was badly wounded and realising that his men were seriously out numbered he ordered them to withdraw - and to leave him behind. His action delayed the enemy advance long enough for reserves to move in and hold the line.
Elliott-Cooper was held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Munster. A fellow prisoner, Frank Vans Agnew, wrote in his memoir:
We had Colonel N.B. Elliott-Cooper with us, badly wounded in the hip joint. He suffered pains of the the damned, but never whimpered once. His language was very bad but a joy to hear, and, when at his worst, he hurled things about ... the poor chap died in Hanover Hospital a month later. If he had gone to Hanover from Le Cateau he would be alive today in my opinion.
Elliott-Cooper died in hospital No. 1 at the prisoner-of-war camp at Lazaret in Hanover on 11 February.
Neville Bowes Elliott-Cooper was the third son and sixth child of Sir Robert Elliott- Cooper and his wife, Fanny. Sir Robert was a wealthy and successful Civil Engineer; his son's were educated at Eton where, more than five years after Neville's death, Sir Robert erected a memorial plaque that reads:
In loving memory of
Gilbert D'Arcy Elliott-Cooper
Major Royal Fusiliers
Died on March 7th 1922 from the result of
Wounds received in action on Aug. 13th 1915
Aged 42 years
At Eton 1893-1897
Also of Neville Bowes Elliott-Cooper VC DSO MC
Lieut-Col. Royal Fusiliers Died a prisoner of
War at Hanover on Feb. 11th 1918 of wounds
Received at Cambrai on Nov. 30th 1917
At Eton 1901-1907
Etonam nacti exornaverunt
Of all the things Sir Robert could have chosen to say about his son, Neville, it was the fact of his dying of wounds whilst a prisoner-of-war that he most wanted to record for posterity - both on this plaque and on his headstone. Neville may have been a lieutenant colonel with a VC, a DSO and an MC but to his father he was his twenty-eight-year-old son who died of wounds far from home as a prisoner of war.