Gabriel Coury (13th June 1896 to 2nd February 1956)


Gabriel was one of seven children born a few miles from his final resting place. His rather swarthy looks came from his dad who was born in Egypt and his mum who was born in Lebanon. Oddly Gabriel was born, raised and educated in Liverpool. At the outbreak of the First World War he was working at a cotton brokers in Liverpool and enlisted in the army.


Aged just 20 he was a Second Lieutenant and in charge of two platoons fighting in Guillemont in France (part of The Battle Of The Somme.) On Tuesday 8th August 1916 the order from above instructed Gabriel and his men to dig a communication trench.  They were under occasional heavy fire from the enemy at the time but were still had to form a trench. Digging a trench can’t be easy but even worse when hidden Germans with machines guns taking random shots at you. However the trench was dug and though the battalion suffered many deaths Gabriel kept up his men's spirits. Amidst the fighting he saw the Major Swainson had been wounded in No Man's Land. Gabriel ran out across the terrain in broad daylight against fiendish machine-gun fire to retrieve him. German snipers were after him from the first moment but he ran on regardless of the hail of bullets flying around him. He reached the Major, lifted him onto his back and started carrying him back to safety. The enemy redoubled their efforts to kill both soldiers. Gabriel dodged from view but when he reappeared it seemed all machine guns were turned on them. Against odds he got the Major back to safety (though he later died.) Gabriel galvanised men from different units and thoroughly organised their position. When the enemy tried to attack they were thrown back in confusion and the counter-attack was pressed home. The battalion made advances.


Later Gabriel received a Victoria Cross from King George V in November 1916 at a ceremony on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. He returned home to Liverpool but three months later was flying over the Western Front. His last contact with the Germans was while flying a BE-2 aircraft which was shot down. He survived “Bloody April” 1917 -  the worst month in the history of the Royal Flying Corps - when the Germans almost drove the British from the sky. Just a month later he was back in Britain to re-train as a pilot. However two serious crashes ended his flying career and he ended the war in the administration branch of the Royal Air Force.


He was married with three daughters and after the war continued to work in the cotton industry in Liverpool. When World War II started he re-joined the army and returned to France serving with an anti-aircraft unit. Returning home from the war he found the cotton industry in steep decline and opened a fish and chip shop called The Frying Pan. He didn't live long though and died at home aged 59 after years of heavy smoking (and estrangement from his wife.) He was buried with full military honours in the Coury family grave in a rather crowded graveyard in Crosby.









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