yeovil at War

Victor Roy C Hooper

Killed in the Salonika Campaign


Victor Roy C Hooper was born in Yeovil in 1896, the son of leather parer William Hooper (b1873) and dressmaker Eliza née Crossman (b1874). In the 1901 census William and Eliza were listed at 11 Victoria Buildings with their children; Eva (b1895), Victor and Minnie (b1898). By the time of the 1911 census William Hooper had died and widowed Eliza took her family to live at 7 South Street. She also took in a boarder to help with the family income, while Eva worked in the cardboard box factory and Victor was a shop assistant. He later worked as a leather staker at Hawkins, Jesty & Ricketts in Higher Kingston

A month after the declaration of war, Victor enlisted at Yeovil on 14 September 1914. He joined the 10th (Service) Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. His Service Number was 13884.

In the early spring of 1915, while home on leave, Victor married Edith Gifford at Yeovil. They were not to have any children.

Formed soon after the 8th and 9th Battalions in September 1914, the 10th were sent to France a year later but, instead of going into the trenches, were suddenly diverted via Marseilles to Salonika. Their move had been precipitated in mid-October 1915 by Bulgaria making an alliance with Germany and Austria. At the request of Greece, Britain and France therefore sent troops to Macedonia to counter any Bulgarian aggression there. The 10th arrived in Salonika on 21 November 1915.

In July 1916, after some months spent on garrison duties, the 10th Devons arrived in the front line near Doiran close to the Bulgarian position at Petit Couronne.

Here in August the Bulgarians attacked but were repulsed by A Company, whose rapid fire inflicted heavy casualties. By the end of September nearly a third of the 10th had been admitted to hospital suffering from malaria or dysentery. Nonetheless, the Battalion remained in these positions for several months, patrolling and occasionally skirmishing with their opponents.

To invade and neutralise Bulgaria the Allies would have to breach the Bulgar front line. On the night of 10th February 1917 the 10th attempted this by launching an unsuccessful attack on Petit Couronne, perched high above a rocky ravine. Meeting fierce resistance, running out of ammunition and having lost 150 casualties, they were forced to withdraw. They had taken thirty prisoners and inflicted heavier casualties on the Bulgarians, but the position remained untaken. Two months later the attack on Petit Couronne was renewed from a different angle. A gap was blown in the enemy wire and the Devons stormed through but they were the only British troops to have taken and held part of the enemy front line. Again, they were ordered to retreat. This time the Devons’ losses among the 650 men who had attacked Petit Couronne were 450 killed, wounded or missing.

The rest of 1917 and the spring and summer of 1918 were spent holding part of the front line and patrolling, awaiting an Allied offensive which finally began on 14th September 1918. During this period, and although we don't know the cause, Victor died on 14 July 1917. He was aged just 21 and was interred in Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria, Greece - Grave 51.

In its edition of 27 July 1917, the Western Gazette reported "Notification has been received by Mrs Hooper, who is at present residing at Percy Road, of the death at Salonica on July 14th of her husband Priv. Victor Hooper. This deceased soldier was, prior to the outbreak of war, employed as a leather staker at Messrs. Hawkins, Jesty & Ricketts factory. He enlisted on 14th September 1914 – a month after the declaration of war and was in a service battalion of the Devon Regiment. He leaves a widow but no children."

Victor Hooper's name is recorded on the War Memorial in the Borough.




The home of the Hooper family in the 1900s, Victoria Buildings photographed here in 1963. The terrace was demolished in 1965.


This photograph of about 1965 shows Hawkins, Jesty & Ricketts' glove factory in Higher Kingston, on the north side of the road opposite Kingston Manor House. Victor worked here as a leather staker prior to enlisting.


Men of the 10th (Service) Battalion, Devonshire Regiment near Bath in 1915.


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate commemorating Victor Hooper.


Victor Hooper's headstone at Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria, Regional unit of Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia, Greece.


Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria, Regional unit of Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia, Greece.

At the invitation of the Greek Prime Minister, M Eleftherios Venizelos, Salonika (now Thessaloniki) was occupied by three French Divisions and the 10th (Irish) Division from Gallipoli in October 1915. Other French and Commonwealth forces landed during the year and in the summer of 1916, they were joined by Russian and Italian troops. In August 1916, a Greek revolution broke out at Salonika, with the result that the Greek national army came into the war on the Allied side. The town was the base of the British Salonika Force and it contained, from time to time, eighteen general and stationary hospitals. Three of these hospitals were Canadian, although there were no other Canadian units in the force. The earliest Commonwealth burials took place in the local Protestant and Roman Catholic cemeteries, and the Anglo-French (now Lembet Road) Military Cemetery was used from November 1915 to October 1918. The British cemetery at Mikra was opened in April 1917, remaining in use until 1920. The cemetery was greatly enlarged after the Armistice when graves were brought in from a number of burial grounds in the area. Mikra British Cemetery now contains 1,810 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, as well as 147 war graves of other nationalities. Within the cemetery will be found the Mikra Memorial, commemorating almost 500 nurses, officers and men of the Commonwealth forces who died when troop transports and hospital ships were lost in the Mediterranean, and who have no grave but the sea. They are commemorated here because others who went down in the same vessels were washed ashore and identified, and are now buried at Thessaloniki.