Can you help find descendants of fallen WWI soldier?

cottrill Published Wednesday, 11th October 2017

A Warndon Library Community Group is attempting to trace the descendants of a local soldier who was wounded in one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War.

The group are working as part of 'Passchendaele At Home', a national project researching the lives of servicemen who were injured at Passchendaele in Belgium in 1917.

Hundreds of men were wounded during the battle and were evacuated to hospitals in the UK, but died during treatment and sadly there is no central record of the location of their graves or memorials. This year marks the centenary of Passchendaele, and the aim of the project is to research and locate their graves and memorials in the UK for the first time so that they can be recorded.

The research group concentrated their efforts on one such soldier: Private Walter Joseph Cottrill, 203068, from the 1/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.

Walter was born 12 November 1890 to parents John and Eliza Cottrill. He was a twin to his sister Ethel who died in infancy in 1892. He married Emma Marie Moore, whom he probably met in Worcester where she was in domestic service, on 17 August 1914 in Bath. They lived in Worcester and Walter worked for his father, who was a manager of the Birmingham and Worcester Coal Company.

Walter enlisted on 22 November 1916 and was wounded at Ypres on 9 October 1917. He died of pneumonia eleven days later, aged 26, on 20 October 1917 at the University War Hospital, Southampton, and was buried in Astwood Cemetery.

James Robertson, Coordinator of the research project, said: "We are really interested in finding out more about Walter and want to discover if he has any descendants still living in Worcestershire. We are hoping to mark the 100th anniversary of Walter's death on Friday, 20 October with help from the Royal British Legion, so if you can help in any way to add to our knowledge, and to the national data base, we would be delighted to hear from you."

There will be a display about Private Cottrill in Warndon library from Monday, 16 October for two weeks, with a duplicate display in The Hive.

There will also be a short memorial ceremony at Astwood Cemetery on the 20 October at 11am to remember Private Walter Joseph Cottrill on the 100th anniversary of his death.

Living relatives of Walter Cottrill and people interested in commemorating those who died at Passchendaele are invited to attend.

 

If you are related to Private Cottrill, please contact James Robertson at Warndon Library and to find out more about the national project visit the Big Ideas website, http://www.bigideascompany.org/.