William Cottrell was born on 11 December 1877 at Pamber. He was baptised on 10 February 1878 at Pamber Priory Church.
His parents were George and Eliza Ann Cottrell (née Ford). George was a ‘Bricklayer’.
He was the eldest son of eleven children: Ada Alice Jane, Harriet Rose, William, Charles George, Florence Mary, Mary Agnes, Percy John, Eleanor Kate, Ethel Mary Ann, Thomas Henry and Elsie Louisa.
In the 1881 Pamber Census William is aged 3 and he, his parents and his three siblings live with William’s grandfather, who was 80 years old and widowed, in Black Fans, Pamber Heath, now known as Sandy Lane. This is possibly where William was born.
William is not listed in the 1901 Tadley Census. His mother and siblings, however, are, and reside at Tadley Hill. William would be aged 23 and not yet married. It is believed that at this time he was a bricklayer, as listed in the 1911 census. It is probable that he was working away from Tadley, possibly with his father, also unlisted in the 1901 Tadley Census, and also a bricklayer.
William married Rose Ann (née Cottrell) on 29 March 1902. They had three children: William George, Frank and Frederick Walter.
In the 1911 Tadley Census, and now 33 years old, William’s address was given as Back Lane (Winston Avenue), Tadley, where he lived with his wife and children. His occupation was listed as ‘Bricklayer Journeyman’. This meant that he had served an apprenticeship but had not set himself up as a master bricklayer.
William enlisted in Basingstoke on 6 June 1916. He served as a private in the 1st Battalion of the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment (service number 242056). His attestation papers record he was 39 years and 16 days old, 5ft 1½ inches high and that he weighed 120 lbs.
On 7 July he was posted to the Army Reserve until he was mobilised on 31 January 1917. On 1 February he was posted to the 1st Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment where he underwent training in the United Kingdom until 12 September when he embarked from Folkestone for the 40 IBD (Infantry Base Depot), Etaples near Boulogne. in France. He was posted to the 3/4th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment and on 16 September transferred to the 1st Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment. He joined the battalion on 18 September as they prepared for the Third Battle of Ypres [Passchendaele] (31 June – 10 November).
William died at the east end of the Gheluvelt plateau near Ypres during the Battle of Broodseinde (4 October). Prior to the battle the 1st Battalion had three weeks of rest and training during which a draft of nearly 250 men (including William) had brought its depleted numbers up to well over 800. The battalion moved up to the front on 25 September, marching to a camp in the Brandhoek area. During the battle William was wounded in action and posted missing. His body was identified by his army pay book.
On 17 June 1918, a pension of 29s 7d a week was awarded to his widow and children.
William was killed in action on Thursday 4 October 1917 aged 39.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Concentration of Graves sheet (15 November 1920), records that William was moved from where he was originally buried and re-buried in Tyne Cot Cemetery [L II D4], Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
He is also remembered on Tadley War Memorial and Tadley United Reformed Church Roll of Honour.
William was awarded the Victory medal and the British War medal. These would have been sent to his wife.