Tommies, Cooper


1st February 1915

At 12.25 pm the 15th Brigade, including the Dorsets, was relieved by the 13th Brigade, marched to Bailleul and went into billets there.

Lieutenant-Colonel Bols left the Dorsets and took over command of the 13th Brigade because its current commander, Brigadier-General Cooper, was taken ill. According to the Order of Battle of the British Army 1914 Cooper’s initials were F.J. and he took over command of the 13th Brigade on 3rd December 1914. I can’t find any mention of him anywhere else, including Ancestry. Could this be a typo and he’s actually Brigadier-General R. J. Cooper, ex-CO of 1st Grenadier Guards, who went on to lead the 29th Brigade at Gallipoli, where he was seriously wounded.

The author of 15th Brigade’s diary was very pleased with their new HQ billets. 28 Rue de Lille in Bailleul. The 1915 Trip Advisor review: “Good!”.

Waiting for Spring

14th January 1915

The Dorsets spent the day in billets in Dranoutre.

The Daily Telegraph journalist, and ex-Bedfords officer, Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, summaries the war so far in a prescient article entitled “Waiting for Spring” on page 10 of today’s newspaper. He writes that “this strange war is drifting through a dull period.” and so he turns to speculate on the outcome of the war. He goes on to ask the reader “which nation will produce the great man, the inspired genius, who will devise a means of making modern warfare decisive?”

The title of the article echoes Kitchener’s recent alleged soundbite (overheard secondhand from a British officer in a French mess) that “I don’t know when it [the war] will end, but I know when it will begin, and that is in the month of May!”

Ashmead-Bartlett went out to Gallipoli as a war correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and even filmed the only movie footage of the battle. He was very critical of the Dardanelles campaign and its commander, General Sir Ian Hamilton. He later spent time on the Western Front. After the war he went off to fight Bolsheviks in Hungary, as you do, returned to become a Tory MP and died in Lisbon at the early age of 50.

Photo showing Carles Bean and Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, war correspondents in 1915.
Australian official historian Charles Bean (front) and British war correspondent Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett (rear) at Imbros during the Battle of Gallipoli, 1915.