Moving service at Ripon Cathedral to honour war hero

The moving service will be held at Ripon Cathedral.
The moving service will be held at Ripon Cathedral.

A moving service at Ripon Cathedral will honour the bravery of a First World War soldier awarded the Victoria Cross.

On November 30 at 3pm, city residents are expected to fill the Cathedral to remember the incredible bravery of the Lieutenant Colonel Neville Bowes Elliott-Cooper.

Lt Col Elliott-Cooper joined the Royal Fusiliers on the outbreak of war, rising through the ranks through his leadership, daring and ability.

He had already been awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross, but while commanding the 8th Battalion, he was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on November 30 1917 during the Battle of Cambrai.

Hearing that the enemy had broken through the outpost line, he rushed out of his dug-out and dashed forward unarmed. Under his direction, British troops forced them back 600 yards.

Badly injured in the hip and still 40 yards in front of his men, Lt Col Elliott-Cooper signalled to them to withdraw, as they were severely outnumbered and suffering heavy casualties, even though this meant he would be captured.

Their actions, though, enabled reserves to be sent forward and hold the line. Lt Col Elliott Cooper died of his wounds as a prisoner of war aged 29, two and a half months later.

The service of commemoration will be led by the Dean of Ripon Cathedral, the Very Rev John Dobson, who will place Lt Col Elliott-Cooper’s Victoria Cross on the altar, which is usually kept in the Royal Fusiliers Museum in the Tower of London.

Colonel Peter Stitt, Commandant of the School of Infantry at Catterick Garrison, will address the Cathedral. The Dishforth Military Wives Choir will also take part in the service, which will be attended by both serving and former Fusiliers.

The Dean said: “This service, which is open to everybody, is of great significance as it recognises the heroism of an outstanding soldier.

“It is also an opportunity for us to reflect on the contribution of the other 249 service personnel and choristers who died for their country in the First World War and whose names are recorded on memorials in the cathedral.

“Lt Col Elliott-Cooper is the only one to have been awarded the Victoria Cross, but all the others made the supreme sacrifice.”

A service in London’s Victoria Embankment Gardens will also commemorate the life of Lt Col Elliott-Cooper.

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