Private John Cope Coldstream Guards 1852 – 1855
John Cope aged 22 of Coalpit Bank in Shropshire left home and traveled to London in order to join the army, he arrived at Horse Guards Parade on 23 September 1852 at approximately 3pm according to his service record
On joining he received a bounty of £4, a significant sum for this man from Shropshire.
At time of joining he was described as being 5 ft 9 inches tall, with light brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion.
He served in the east including the Crimea, as termed in his service record for a period of 1 year 7 months, which indicates that he was posted there in early 1854. He was present at the Battles of Alma and Inkerman.
On the 19th August 1855 during some minor action at Sevastopol he was severely wounded in the neck and shoulder by a musket ball. He was removed to the field hospital at Scutari, which is where he received treatment from Florence Nightingale who wrote to John’s wife Jane whilst he was recovering. This letter became a treasured possession of the Cope family as recalled by his son in the 1930’s.
John recovered from his wounds, but was deemed unfit to remain in the army as he had lost “power” in his left arm due to the musket ball wound. John was discharged on 29 November 1855 at the barracks in London and returned to Coalpit Bank to resume his civilian life. The army granted him a pension of 1 shilling on the 16 November 1880, seems a small reward for serving your country.
John had a long life ahead of him, he and Jane had 4 children and he found work at the Snedshill Ironworks of the Lilleshall Company. His final job was at the New Yard Works St Georges where he worked until old age and infirmity, coupled with chronic rheumatism, the result of his military service forced him to give up work.
John died in Glasgow, at the home of his daughter Edith on the 17 January 1914 aged 86 and he was buried with full military honours in St George’s Churchyard.
Updated 6 January 2017