Tears and tributes for ‘one of Sheffield’s best’

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It was exactly the send-off he’d have wanted... generations of his family, friends from his war years, a song from his dancing days, and a bit of a do at the Polish Club - the place he spent his last night, and where he and wife Sheila had their first date.

Bert Cooper, President of the Sheffield branch of the Normandy Veterans’ Association, was laid to rest following an emotional funeral service at Hutcliffe Wood packed with 200 mourners.

D Day veteran Bert Cooper at Barkers Pool

D Day veteran Bert Cooper at Barkers Pool

The father-of-four and great-grandfather-of-eight from Greystones, who died aged 88, was just 19 when he survived the horrors of D-Day on June 6, 1944.

As one of the foot soldiers who made up the very first wave of infantrymen, he lived while teenage comrades died at his side, blown up and cut down by shelling and machine gun fire on the beaches of northern France.

It was an experience which defined his life - and he was an active member not just of the Normandy veterans but of all the regiments with which he served.

Normandy comrade Bill Hartley, 91, told mourners Bert was ‘one of the best’. “He was first class. At meetings, as soon as you walk in, you look for Bert. We miss him tremendously already.”

Youngest son Mark, born when Bert was 58, said: “It can be an overused term, but to me my dad was a hero - just like the other war veterans who fought for our country.”