Branston war hero commemorated

North Kesteven District Council has officially named a new road after a former local resident and WW2 pilot, Flying Officer William George Cooper.

On 22 November 2011, the site of four new Council homes, Cooper Close in Branston, was officially named in honour of local hero and WWII pilot, Flying Officer William (Bill) Cooper, who resided in the village at the time of his tragic death.

Flying Officer Cooper died saving his crew from their Stirling aircraft in 1943, returning from Germany. Representatives from RAF Waddington, Coningsby and Cranwell attended the official street-naming and handover ceremony. Also in attendance were members of the 214 Squadron Association (Cooper’s former squadron); the Royal British Legion; High Sheriff of Lincolnshire Robin Battle; Lord Lieutenant Tony Worth; North Kesteven District Council Leader Cllr Mrs Marion Brighton OBE; and NKDC Chairman Cllr Ian Cartwright MBE. But the VIP of the day was Bill Shaw of Stratford-upon-Avon – nephew of Flying Officer Cooper – who had travelled with his wife Kay especially to visit the site of Cooper Close and officially open the new Council homes. Bill was reunited with Branston Village postmistress Joyce Northey at the ceremony, who at the age of just 16 had delivered the telegram to Flying Officer Cooper’s wife Esther with the sad news of his death in 1943.

Bill was utterly thrilled that the name of his uncle would live on long into the future, and thought the houses were ‘fantastic’. Although Bill never met his uncle, he gave the crowd an extremely moving speech about the life of his uncle, which he had been told as a child by his parents. Researching his uncle’s life and the circumstances leading up to his tragic death in 1943 has become Bill’s life work since his retirement.

Bill said: “I am absolutely thrilled that my uncle’s name will live on through these fantastic houses – the fact that North Kesteven District Council has named the street after him is a wonderful way to honour his name.”

Councillor Stewart Ogden, Executive Board Member for Housing, said that the council’s reinvigorated focus on building new affordable homes, made possible and brought forward through its successful bid to the Homes & Community Agency was of great benefit to District residents at a time when there are over 1,000 people on the housing register.

“These new homes will make a substantial difference for people in need and contribute towards us meeting our affordable housing targets. We greatly look forward to being able to offer them for rent to tenants in need as soon as possible,” he said.

by North Kesteven