RIFLEMAN LEONARD ALFRED CHARLES COPPARD
LONDON REGIMENT (CITY OF LONDON RIFLES)
7TH JULY 1917 AGE 23
BURIED: COLOGNE SOUTHERN CEMETERY, GERMANY
Leonard Coppard's brother, George, chose his inscription. It sounds like a brother's inscription, as though he's describing Leonard as 'rock hard'. But he isn't, he's just saying that Leonard was a member of the 6th Battalion the City of London Regiment whose nickname was the 'Cast Irons'. It is thought that the name came about because the buttons on the 6th's tunics were made of black iron rather than silver or brass.
Leonard Coppard served with the 6th Battalion City of London Regiment and was taken prisoner in the first part of 1917. His Red Cross file says that he was taken prisoner at 'Buttecourt on 20 May 1917'. There is nowhere called Buttecourt but there is somewhere called Bullecourt and although the 1st Battalion were out of the line on the 20 May, the 2nd Battalion were in the trenches at Bullecourt. On the 20th they were subjected to a very heavy enemy barrage, which 'caused some casualties'. The next day the battalion made an attack on Bovis trench: 'Our troops gained objective but were forced to withdraw by a hostile counter attack'. It could have been at this point that Coppard was taken prisoner. The battalion was relieved that evening and the war diary recorded 13 officer and 226 O/R casualties over their four day tour of the trenches.
The Red Cross file states that Coppard was wounded in the right knee and that he died in the camp hospital at Dulmen on 7 July 1917. Not that news of any of this seems to have been passed on to his family until May 1919.
After the war, the War Graves Commission exhumed the bodies of British prisoner-of-war from 180 cemeteries scattered across Germany. They were reburied in four British cemeteries within Germany of which Cologne Southern is one.