Private 7305 William Cottrell

Cottrell William 96 389x600

Killed in Action on Saturday, 13th March 1915, age 30.
Commemorated on Panel 17 and 18 of Le Touret Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

1st Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 24th Brigade of 8th Division.

Son of the late Edward and Pheobe Cottrell.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Birmingham, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 12th January 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1559481/

Genealogical Data

1891 Census
3 Old Hall Buildings, Horseley Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Edward Cottrell (49, Widower, Moulder, born Tipton), and his 6 children: Phoebe Ann (21, born Tipton), Emily Eliza (15, born Tipton), Sarah (10, born Tipton), Thomas (8, born Tipton), William (6, born Tipton), and John (5, born Tipton).

1901 Census
Back of 4b Horseley Heath, Tipton, Staffs.
Ann Cottrell (Single, 56, Photographic Printer, born Tipton) and her nephew William Cottrell (16, Iron Founder, born Tipton).

1911 Census
William can no longer be traced, most likely emigrated to Australia.
Ann Cottrell is now living at 4a Horseley Road with nephew John Cottrell.

Personal Data

The Tipton Library Memorial records W Cotterill, as does the 'Staffordshire Roll of Honour'. Both the' Commonwealth War Graves' and 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' book agree this is spelt as Cottrell.

De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour
COTTRELL, WILLIAM, Private No. 7305, 1st Battn., Worcestershire Regt., son of Edward Cottrell, Iron Founder, by his wife, Phoebe, daughter of Joseph Dean; born Tipton, Staffs, 26 October 1884; educated Council Schools there; enlisted 6 Nov 1902, and was killed in action at Neuve Chapelle, 10-13 March 1915. Unmarried.

The 1st Worcesters landed in Le Havre on 5th November 1914 and moved to the Neuve Chapelle area, where the line had stabilised after fierce fighting in October. The Germans still bombarded the lines with regularity and ferocity, and the Worcesters had 40 men killed in the area by the end of 1914. William landed in France on 12th January 1915 as replacement for these early losses.

Action resulting in his death

The Battle of Neuve Chapelle raged from the 10th to 13th March 1915; it was intended to eliminate a German salient into the British lines, to break through their defensive lines and capture Aubers Ridge. This was originally planned to be in combination with a French attack on Vimy Ridge, but this was not carried out due to their resource constraints.

The Worcesters were to have attacked at 9.30am on 10th March as the second wave of 24th Brigade, but this was not possible because of delays on their left in clearing the 'Moated Grange'. At 2.00pm they temporarily assisted the 23rd Brigade on their left and suffered a number of casualties, and then at 4.30pm advanced eastwards until they met resistance near Piétre, and entrenched for the night. The 25th Brigade on the right had successfully captured Neuve Chapelle village by 8.30am, and, had communication allowed, this may have been the key to a more general breakthrough. Twenty Worcesters men had died on the opening day.

The next day, the 11th, was a day of confusion. The artillery attempted a bombardment of the German lines in front of the Worcesters but did not have an accurate location, and during the afternoon shelled an advance party of the Worcesters with numerous casualties. There were locally organised attacks in the morning before a more general attack in the afternoon which failed due to heavy German opposition, and the failure of the battalion on the Worcester's left flank.

At daybreak on the 12th, the Germans launched an attack against the Worcesters who waited until the Germans were 70 yards away before opening a devastating volley of rapid rifle fire. This halted the attack, and the Worcesters rose from their trench and counter-attacked with bayonet. This was successful with the Worcesters taking some ruined buildings just beyond the German front line. Unfortunately no reinforcements arrived, and the buildings were intermittently bombarded by our own artillery. Despite fighting off numerous German counter-attacks, it was obvious that this isolated position was untenable, and at about 10.00am the order was given to fall back to the initial line. This was across open ground, and the Worcesters lost many officers men in this operation, including the Commanding Officer, Lt. Col Wodehouse.

What was left of the 1st Worcesters was to attack again alongside the 2nd Devons at 3.00am on the 13th, but this was cancelled. Thus ended the 1st Worcesters action at Neuve Chapelle.

The casualty numbers, not surprisingly, are not accurate by day. The records show 11 men being killed on the 12th, but 105 on the 13th March when the action was almost over. It is probably better to say that the 1st Worcesters action at Neuve Chapelle resulted in the death of at least 12 officers and 150 men.

Like all the Tipton men killed at Neuve Chapelle, William has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.

Newspaper Cuttings

Express & Star 10th May 1915
Private W. Cotterill, of the 1st Worcesters, is officially reported killed in action at Neuve Chapelle. Cotterill belonged to a well-known Horseley Heath (Tipton) family. He had been out in Australia, and had volunteered for service on the outbreak of war.