John, or Jack as he was more widely known as, was born on 20th September 1889 in Kingswinford, Staffordshire to parents Edward and Ellen Cooper.
He enlisted with the Royal Marine Artillery on 14th September 1908, in Dudley leaving his previous occupation as a school teacher. He was 5'7" tall, had brown eyes and dark brown hair.
He started his Navy career as a Private, training at the Royal Marine Artillery HQ from 14th September 1908 to 13th August 1909. He then furthered his training, moving up in rank to Gunner 2nd Class until 1st November 1909, and embarked to HMS Crescent as a Gunner 1st Class on 24th June 1910.
His next posting was to HMS Agamemnon from 27th September 1910 to 18th February 1913. It was during this posting that on 26th October 1910 he fell asleep at his post whilst on sentry duty at the cells. This in-action caused him to lose 1 Good Conduct Badge and a similar event happened on 21st November earning him 10 days punishment for using the Officers (?) whilst on sentry duty on the aft deck.
Poor Jack was reprimanded again on 14th February 1911 for being absent from guard duty, 2 days later punished again for sitting down and reading whilst on duty. Lastly on 1st October 1911 he was punished for neglect of duty whilst on sentry watch. He was registered as being aboard the Agamemnon, a 1st Class Battleship, during the 1911 census, which was anchored at Chatham at the time.
Jack returned for Artillery training on 19th February 1913 to 26th March 1913 which was followed by a posting to HMS Duke of Edinburgh until 4th March 1914.
Embarking to HMS Collingwood until January 1916 he had six months of training and during this training time was married to Lilian Baylie, on 17th March 1916. The newlyweds only had a few months together before Jack was posted to HMS Vanguard on 19th July 1916 where he remained until the ship's tragic explosion.
After the accident, Jack's wife Lilian never remarried, she missed her husband too much. At her request, following her death in 1968, her ashes were scattered above the Vanguard wreck at Scapa Flow, so that she could be with her husband once again.
(#135 - 362/843)
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 - FreeBMD
1901 & 1911 England Census
National Archives Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War.ADM 242/008; (1914 - 1919)
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/8; Scan Number: 0745
Photo - Sylvia Wood