Battle of the Somme: Soldier's life saved by spoon and Bible kept in his jacket pocket

A soldier shot during the Battle of the Somme survived because the bullet hit a spoon and a Bible he kept in his jacket pocket.

Henry Cooper, 20, from Manchester, was hit in the chest during the battle in 1916.

Although the bullet pierced his skin, it was deflected by the the silver spoon and bible he kept in his left jacket pocket.

Mr Cooper returned to the UK and spent months recovering from the gunshot would in a Southampton hospital.

His family kept the spoon after his death in the 1970s, and his grandson Rod Cooper carried the memento in his pocket while serving in Iraq in 1991.

Rod, 54, from Paignton, Devon, said his family believed the spoon had saved his grandfather's life.

Rod Cooper pictured while serving in Iraq in 1991. Credit: The Royal British Legion/PA Wire

"My mother gave me the spoon just before I left the UK for Operation Granby in Iraq," he said.

"She gave it to me as a token of good luck and asked me to keep it in my pocket. I kept it in my top pocket throughout the deployment. I took it on further tours later on."

Rod said the bullet punctured some of this grandfather's major organs, including his lung.

"It was lodged inside him and had to be removed," he said. "He suffered as a result of his injuries later in life."

This year marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, in which more than one million men were killed or wounded.

On July 1, David Cameron and a host of other dignitaries from across Europe will come together to commemorate the battle.