I got the military cross. Mind you, I got the Navy a bit annoyed as well!

During the Second World War, Tommy served in the Royal Horse Guards regiment with which he travelled to the Middle East.​​

After a short while, his reconnaisance unit was sent to North Africa working inconjunction with armoured cars and tanks. He then lost his A1 rating after he received a gunshot wound to his left arm. This allowed him to audition, with great success, for the army concert party.

He became the Horse Guards boxing champion, he was so good that he was offered a contract to turn pro.​

While serving, he travelled to Egypt and began to develop his act incorporating the now iconic trademark fez.​

His famous red fez was introduced rather luckily during a NAAFI concert. The concert took place in a Y.M.C.A. in Cairo. Tommy was going to wear his pith helmet but he had somehow mislaid it. Quick as a flash he borrowed an Egyptian waiter's hat instead - and the rest, as they say, is history.

Whilst on a boat travelling from Port Said to Alexandria he first saw his future wife, Gwendoline Henty. She was 26, an accomplished pianist. They met while doing the same show in Alexandria. Tommy sat next to her on the bus going back to the headquarters. Two weeks later he asked Gwen, who he now affectionately calls Dove, 'I suppose you wouldn't marry me, would you?'

Trooper Cooper
​​There was a complication. When Dove got on that boat to Alexandria, she was alone but not exactly single. She had been engaged to a pilot who was killed on a mission to Cologne. Her heart was still broken - or so she thought.

Asked later what she would have done if her pilot had survived she said, 'I'd have broken off the engagement. I really fell for Tommy.'Two months later they were married in Nicosia, Cyprus. They went on to have two children Tommy Junior and Vicky.​
Egypt 1947
Gwendoline Henty (Dove)

In his own inimitable words, Tommy Cooper tells us what it was like in the Horse Guards.