PRIVATE JOSEPH PERCY COOPER
5TH OCTOBER 1917 AGE 19
BURIED: SANCTUARY WOOD CEMETERY, YPRES, BELGIUM
Of all the hymns quoted in inscriptions this is one of the most popular:
Rock of ages cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
It was a favourite nineteenth century hymn appearing in virtually every Protestant hymnal - of which there were fifty-two. And it was a favourite funeral hymn, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband even asked for it to be played to him as he lay on his deathbed. Christ is the Rock of Ages, from whose side the water and blood flowed at his crucifixion, the event which guaranteed man's salvation.
Private Cooper was initially listed as missing. His parents instituted an Australian Red Cross Enquiry from which it was possible to piece together what happened to him:
"Informant states that the 26th A.I.F. were going into the line at Zonnebeke at about 8 pm on Oct/4th/17 when Cooper was struck by a shell and killed instantly a piece of shell went right through his lungs."
Private V.H. Lusk
"I saw him killed on the tape just as we left the duck boards to go over at Zonnebeke on the 4th October about 4.30 am. A whizz-bang killed him and Whipler and wounded several."
Private J.S. Locke
"I saw him killed at Ypres. He was caught by a shell fragment in the chest and killed instantly."
"I buried my comrade 400 yards from Zonnebeke Church as near as possible. ... The said soldier was a dear friend of mine and ... I would like his parents to know his comrades buried him decently."
Private G. Graham