COOPER, Eric John Morley
(Service number 24116)

First Rank Corporal Last Rank Corporal


Date 6 August 1886 Place of Birth St Albans, Christchurch

Enlistment Information

Date Age
Address at Enlistment Paul Street, Waimate
Occupation Painter
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs Maud COOPER (mother), Hancock Road, Papanui, Christchurch
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 13th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Battalion, C Company
Date 27 May 1916
Transport Willochra or Tofua
Embarked From Wellington Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
Service Medals British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 22 October 1919 Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations



Date 17 October 1928 Age 42 years
Place of Death Wellington Hospital, Wellington
Cause Complaint associated with his trade' (painter)
Notices Evening Post, 17 October 1928; Star, 19 October 1928
Memorial or Cemetery Taita Old Cemetery, Hutt Valley
Memorial Reference Block VI, Plot 11
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Eric John Morley Cooper was born on 6 August 1886 at St Albans, Christchurch, the second son of Richard Alfred Cooper and his second wife, Sarah Maud Ethel née White. He was educated at St Albans School, Christchurch, leaving just before his thirteenth birthday to go out to work. By 1911, Eric was a painter at Waimate. He was there when he enlisted for service with the New Zealand forces. Single and Presbyterian, he named his mother as next-of-kin – Mrs Maud Cooper, Hancock Road, Papanui, Christchurch.

Corporal E. J. M. Cooper embarked with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion of the 13th Reinforcements, departing from Wellington on 27 May 1916. Eric married Violette Frances Elizabeth Stanger on 3 June 1919 at Kings Norton, Warwickshire, England. Before long he returned to New Zealand, by the “Corinthic” which was due at Wellington on 20 September 1919. He was discharged on 22 October 1919. Violetta Francis Elizabeth Cooper, married, 22 years, also sailed to New Zealand by the “Corinthic”, leaving in August 1919. The name of E. J. M. Cooper appeared regularly on the Waimate Daily Advertiser Roll of Honour under the sub-title of Answered the Call.

Joan Dolina Cooper was born in 1920 at Christchurch to Eric and Violetta. A second daughter, Violet Erica Cooper, known as Paddy, was born in 1926 in Manchester, England. Eric and Violetta lived in Nelson, moving to Lower Hutt in 1927. Eric John Morley Cooper died on 17 October 1928 at Wellington, aged 42 years. He was buried at Taita Old Cemetery. His loving wife and daughters - Violet, Joan and “Paddy” - remembered Eric in an In Memoriam notice in 1929. “Sleep, Daddy, until the day breaks.” Eric’s older brother, Cato George Cooper, also served in World War One.

On 16 December 1931 at Nelson, Violetta Cooper married William Walter Gray. Gray had long been a friend of the Cooper family in Nelson. Before Eric died, he asked Gray to look after his wife and family. They moved to Wanganui and shortly after Violetta Gray began to suffer from ill health, although she had recovered with medical treatment. It was said that her nerves had been upset at the time of the Murchison earthquake. Sadly, on the night of 1 February 1932, tragedy struck. Mr William Walter Gray had been to telephone for a doctor, at his wife’s request. On his return ten minutes later, he “found her and his step-daughter Violet “Paddy,” aged five, dead as a result of razor wounds, and another step-daughter, Joan, aged 12, suffering from a wound in the throat and hand.” His elder step-daughter (Joan Dolina Cooper) met him on the verandah – “Daddy, Mummy is dead and she has killed Paddy.” Mrs Gray had been ailing for some days and suffering great pain. Violetta Gray had purchased two razors in the afternoon of the tragedy, her birthday, when she went shopping. Her mother had explained to Joan, after killing Paddy and immediately before killing herself, “I cannot help it; tell Daddy I am sorry.” The inquest found that Violetta Gray was of unsound mind – in astate of temporary insanity - when she inflicted the fatal wounds on he little daughter and herself. All the evidence points to a very happy relationship between William Gray and Violetta and her two daughters. Violetta Frances Elizabeth Gray and Violet Erica Cooper (Paddy) were buried at Aramoho Cemetery, Wanganui. Joan Dolina Cooper, who had made a valiant attempt to save her little sister and was herself wounded, married William Hugh David Wallace in 1940. They lived on the West Coast for many years until Joan died in 1968 at Timaru where she was buried. Violetta Stanger’s father had served in World War One. Her parents came to New Zealand, where they died. Her sister Ivy and brother Victor also came to New Zealand, both marrying and dying here.


Auckland War Memorial Museumm Cenotaph Database [05 July 2022]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [07 July 2022]; School Admission record (Canterbury Branch NZSG) [16 July 2022]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [16 July 2022]; Taita Old Cemetery burial record & headstone transcription (Hutt City Council) [16 July 2022]; Waimate Daily Advertiser, 30 May 1918, Star, 3 September 1919, 19 October 1928, Evening Post, 17 October 1928, Nelson Evening Mail, 17 October 1929, Ashburton Guardian, 3 & 5 February 1932, Hawera Star, 3 February 1932, Auckland Star, 5 February 1932 (Papers Past) [18 September 2019; 16 July 2022]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, Teresa Scott, South Canterbury Genealogy Society

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Not assigned.

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