It is always nice when it is possible to add a story to an item in my collection. Tonight’s uniform jacket is one such case. I bought this officer’s KD service dress jacket without any buttons or insignia a couple of years back:The only clue was a name written inside in indelible pencil for a ‘Major Cooper’:Thanks to the help of fellow collectors it was possible to establish a likely candidate to be this Major Cooper. There were only two Major Coopers listed in the (admittedly incomplete) rolls of officers for WW2. As one of these was in the Guards (with different button arrangements on their uniforms) the most likely candidate was a Major Eric Holmes Cooper. The records indicate that Major EH Cooper had been born on 7th February 1914 and was educated at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge in 1933, before commissioning into the Royal Army Service Corps Supplementary Reserve of Officers on 3rd September 1938. He was promoted to lieutenant on 1st January 1941, to Captain on 8th August 1942 and was made a temporary Major on the same day. This timeline would fit with the uniform as it has a label mentioning the ‘Late King George V’:This would suggest that the jacket was bought in the few years after the King’s death in 1936, and certainly before the middle of the Second World War. The shoulder straps each have two neatly sewn holes for the rank of a lieutenant, and a third pair of holes more crudely punched through, suggesting they were to add an extra pip when he became a captain:With this information and the help of a fellow collector, the uniform has been refitted with RASC buttons:And collar dogs:Some points to note about the uniform are the scalloped cuffs:And small loops of fabrics above the left breast pocket to allow a set of medals to be worn:This uniform is a close copy of the barathea officer’s service dress jacket worn in the UK, but made of KD cotton. The jacket has four pockets and there is evidence it has been starched at some point, presumably to make it as smart as possible for parade wear.
Major Cooper stayed in the army for a short period after the end of WW2 and was mentioned in dispatches in May 1946 and awarded the Army Emergency Reserve Decoration in December of the same year. He had married Squadron Officer Beatrice Stewart-Black WAAF in 1935, but they were to have no children. He died in July 1991.