695072 PTE. R. COUPE, M.M., R.F.A

 

Robert Coupe was born on 16 January 1889 in Bamber Bridge.  His father was William Coupe (b. 1852 in Walton Le Dale), an overlooker in a weaving shed.  His mother was Elizabeth Walker (b. 1853 in Walton Le Dale).  William and Elizabeth were married in 1874 and they had 7 children: Thomas (b. 1875), John (b. 1879), Elizabeth (b. 1881), William (b. 1885), twins Joseph and Mary Jane (b. 1888), and Robert, the youngest.  Elizabeth (his mother) died in 1902.  In 1911, William was living with four of his adult children at 25 Station Road, Bamber Bridge.  Robert was a labourer in the tape room of a mill.

 

Robert was in the Territorials before the War and in May 1915 he signed up in the West Lancashire Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery.  He was assigned service number 129 (the low number shows he enlisted early).  Although he was in the RFA and signed up at the same time as the large number of Briggers in 286 Brigade, he did not serve with them.  He must have done significant training before the War as he was sent to Egypt on 4 June 1915, only a few weeks after enlisting.  The newspaper article confirms this and says he was later sent to France.  In 1917, he was given a new service number, 695072.  This number indicates he served with the Divisional Ammunition Column for 55th (West Lancashire) Division so it seems likely that Robert was with the Division on the Somme in September 1916.

 

At the end of 1916, the Division moved to the Ypres salient and the first half of  1917 was relatively quiet, but the Division was in action near Frezenberg during the opening phase of the Third Battle of Ypres (at Pilkem Ridge, 31 July – 2 August). The Division was responsible for an attack on several farms which proved unsuccessful.  In the period that followed, Robert was allowed home on leave, and whilst there he married Elizabeth Longton (b. 1888 in Bamber Bridge).  He returned to join the Division as they prepared to continue their attack on the Gallipoli and Schuler farms, south of Frezenberg, on 20-23 September.  This time they were successful and they managed to consolidate their position.  It must have been here that Robert displayed the bravery for which he was awarded the Military Medal (the announcement was made in the London Gazette on 14 December 1917), but he must have been wounded around the same time as he was discharged on 11 December 1917 as no longer medically fit to serve.  The newspaper article has Robert’s age wrong; in 1917, he was 29.

 

Robert came back to Bamber Bridge and he and Elizabeth had two children.  He worked as a labourer for the Urban District Council and they lived at 356 Station Road, Bamber Bridge.  Robert died in 1961.

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