Colonel Jim Taylor and the Lord Mayor of Westminster Cllr Ian Adams
A seriously wounded soldier whose quick-thinking saved the lives of others during the Battle of Cambrai in 1917 has been honoured with a memorial stone.
Lieutenant Colonel Neville Bowes Elliott-Cooper was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the nation’s highest award for battlefield bravery, for his actions on November 30, 1917 near Cambrai in France.
He was 28 years old and a Temporary Lieutenant Colonel commanding the 8th Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers, when he was severely injured in the hip joint while leading an advance.
Lieutenant Colonel Elliott-Cooper rushed out of his dugout to face the enemy after they broke the outpost line
A citation published in the London Gazette on February 12, 1918, said:“Absolutely unarmed, he made straight for the advancing enemy, and under his direction our men forced them back 600 yards.
“While still some forty yards in front he was severely wounded. Realising that his men were greatly outnumbered and suffering heavy casualties, he signalled to them to withdraw, regardless of the fact that he himself must be taken prisoner.
“By his prompt and gallant leading he gained time for the reserves to move up and occupy the line of defence.”
The stone memorial
Lieutenant Colonel Elliott-Cooper was taken to Münster and then to Hanover Hospital where he died of his wounds as a prisoner of war on 11 February 1918.
On Thursday 23 November 23 a memorial stone was unveiled on Victoria Embankment Gardens by the Lord Mayor of Westminster and Colonel Jim Taylor.
A wreath was laid and a blessing read out before the Last Post was played by a bugler.
Cllr Rachael Robathan, Westminster City Council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “Commemorations of heroes such as Lieutenant Colonel Elliott-Cooperbring us together to remember and show gratitude for all that our Armed Forces do to keep us safe.
“Remembering the Victoria Cross recipients born in this city will ensure their acts of bravery and leadership have the power to resonate across generations, and bring us closer in understanding to the experiences of those who fought one hundred years ago.”
Lieutenant Colonel Elliott-Cooper's medals
The Lord Mayor of Westminster, Cllr Ian Adams, gave a speech at the ceremony and said: “These flagstones commemorate extraordinary acts.
“They are visual reminders of the debt we owe to our Armed Forces for living our daily lives in peace. Commemorating our heroes is an opportunity both to honour our Armed Forces, and to promote the values they stand for – courage, respect, integrity and pride.”
Lieutenant Colonel Elliott-Cooper was born in January 1889 in Lancaster Gate. He was the youngest son of civil engineer Sir Robert Elliott-Cooper KCB. He was educated at Eton College and Sandhurst Military Academy.
Tobias Ellwood MP attended the ceremony
Before the First World War he had already served in South Africa, Mauritius and India.
As part of the centenary 628 Victoria Cross recipients from the First World War are being honoured in their birthplaces.
By 2018, all the paving stones in Westminster’s garden will have been replaced with engraved stones, each representing one of the local VC recipients from the First World War.