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Doctor John Cropper, Captain, Royal Army Medical Corps

Died 21.11.16 aged 52.

John Cropper was born on September 17th, 1864, at Guisborough, Yorkshire, and brought up at the family home "The Dingle" at Liverpool on the Mersey


He was educated at Charterhouse School, and went up to Cambridge University, obtaining his Medical Degree in 1891, specialising in ophthalmic surgery.

On February 6th 1895 at Caerwent Church, he married Anne Ellen Walker of Mount Ballan. Their son Thomas Andrew Cropper was born at Mount Ballan on 5th May 1898.

After his marriage he spent much time away from the County, working as a medical missionary with the Church Missionary Society in Turkey, Palestine and in Africa in the Sudan and Uganda.

When at home he was prominent in establishing the Red Cross in Monmouthshire and gave great impetus to the development of Branches within the County.

He was also a distinguished artist receiving many prizes for his paintings and a Royal Academy Medal for his painting of an Arab Market Place. His sketch books show that he was a profuse sketcher and his coloured sketches of his tour of Scandinavia in the 1880s provide an intriguing diary of his travels.

He was a keen motorist owning one of the first cars in Monmouthshire, winning in 1909 the "Tortoise Race" at "The Hendre" at Monmouth, the home of Henry Rolls. In 1909 he patented a means of hot repairing (Vulcanising) Motor vehicle car tyre tubes.

At the outbreak of war in 1914 he volunteered for the RAMC as a Red Cross Member and went to France with the 'Old Contemptibles', the original British Expeditionary Force.

His effort at home was to build in 1915 at Sudbrook a Hospital for the wounded, this was overseen and organised by Mrs Cropper who contributed to the main cost and was later awarded Membership of the Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.) for her efforts.

He was also patron of the school in Sudbrook set up by Severn Tunnel engineer Thomas Andrew Walker and up to the time of his death was the owner of the freehold.

In 1916 he was appointed to the hospital ship Britannic - the twin vessel to the Titanic.

Dr.Cropper found himself under-occupied during most of his time on the hospital ship. Casualties were picked up at the Dardenelles and within a few days were unloaded at Southampton. Only five such missions were completed in 1916, and the vessel spent most of its time moored off Southampton.

During the last of those missions, on the 21st of November 1916, the Britannic was torpedoed, or possibly hit a mine, off the island of Kea in the Aegean Sea, and started to sink.

An eye witness stated that Dr. Cropper was on one of the last lifeboats to leave the ship at the aft end, and was seen, prior to embarking on the lifeboat, giving his life jacket to another.

As the lifeboat he was in was being released from the blocks the Britannic's Captain made a vain attempt to beach the stricken vessel and started the ships engines. The sad result was that the last three boats away were sucked in to the propellers and destroyed causing the loss of life of thirty one members of the ship's company.

Dr. Cropper has no known grave and is commemorated by a plaque in Caerwent Church and on the Mikra Memorial near Thessalonika, Greece.

JN Oct 1999, from John Harvey, Dr. Cropper's grandson