Chief Petty Officer Arthur William Frederick Cooper, DSM

Arthur William Cooper was born on 15 February 1909 in Fremantle, Western Australia. He joined the Royal Australian Navy on 15 February 1927, undertaking his basic training at HMAS Cerberus (Flinders Naval Depot), Victoria.

Rated an ordinary seaman, Cooper served variously in HMA Ships Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide between June 1927 and March 1928 during which time he was promoted Able Seaman.

He again served at Cerberus between 1928 and 1930 successfully passing the RAN Educational Test before returning to sea in the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra. In Canberra, Cooper qualified as a gun-layer second class and was promoted Acting Leading Seaman. A brief period of shore service followed before he returned to sea serving in the destroyers Vendetta and Waterhen between 1934 and 1935. During that time he was confirmed in the rank of Leading Seaman.

On promotion to Petty Officer in January 1936, Cooper served in the light cruiser HMAS Brisbane before joining HMAS Australia in which he served until April 1938. This service was briefly punctuated by his attendance at Cerberus to undertake the RAN petty officer course in October 1937. Between April 1938 and November 1941 Petty Officer Cooper served in the destroyer HMAS Voyager in the Mediterranean while part of the famous Scrap Iron Flotilla. During that time his ability was consistently reported as superior and Voyager was frequently in action.

The Greek Medal for Outstanding Acts which CPO Cooper was awarded for service in HMAS Voyager
The Greek Medal for Outstanding Acts which CPO Cooper was awarded for service in HMAS Voyager

In November 1941 Cooper experienced some respite from the war at sea serving ashore at HMAS Cerberus before travelling to the United Kingdom in 1942 to join and commission the heavy cruiser HMAS Shropshire. In the same year he was awarded the Greek Medal for Outstanding Acts on behalf of King George of the Hellenes, in recognition of service with the Scrap Iron Flotilla. Arthur Cooper was promoted Temporary Chief Petty Officer in April 1943 and on 6 May 1944 was recommend for temporary warrant rank by his commanding officer Captain Harry Showers, RAN.

Shropshire firing an 8-inch gun broadside
Shropshire firing an 8-inch gun broadside

Shropshire saw extensive action in the Pacific during the advance on Japan, notably in waters surrounding the Philippines. It was during that time that Chief Gunners Mate Arthur Cooper distinguished himself in action during operations in Leyte Gulf and during the Battle of the Surigao Straits when Allied forces engaged and destroyed a number of Japanese battleships. The action proved to be the last great sea battle of World War II.

On 30 March 1945 Chief Petty Officer Cooper received formal advice that he had been awarded a Distinguished Service Medal in recognition of his service in Shropshire as the Elevation Officer.

Arthur Cooper returned to Australia in June 1945 and served briefly at Cerberus and HMAS Moreton, Brisbane, before rejoining Shropshire in April 1946. He discharged from the RAN on expiration of his engagement on 29 December 1948.

nformal group portrait of members of HMAS Shropshire. Identified, left to right, back row: Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Joe Feltham, DSM; CPO George Cheadle, DSM; Petty Officer Norbert 'Nutty' Ferris. Front row: Commander Warwick Bracegirdle, DSC and bar; CPO Arthur Cooper, DSM. (AWM P04749.001)
Informal group portrait of members of HMAS Shropshire. Identified, left to right, back row: Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Joe Feltham, DSM; CPO George Cheadle, DSM; Petty Officer Norbert 'Nutty' Ferris. Front row: Commander Warwick Bracegirdle, DSC and bar; CPO Arthur Cooper, DSM. (AWM P04749.001)

 

 

  • Artwork courtesy of AWM ART27530. Artist Geoffrey Mainwaring, 1953.