Born in Biddulph circa 1886, William Herbert Cottrelll was the son of Herbert, a coal miner and his wife, Frances (nee Wilshaw). By 1911 the family resided at ‘Ivy house’, 31 Tunstall Road, Biddulph. William was a coal miner, aged 25, and single.
At some point between the 1911 census and the outbreak of war, William moved up to Goldthorpe, Yorkshire in the search for work. He had made the move with his friends – William Henry Shallcross and Jack Wilshaw. All were to perish in the war.
Soon after the start of the Great War, William enlisted at Doncaster joining the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Training complete the men of the 1/5th KOYLI were to join the 49th Division on its move to France in April 1915. After disembarkation the battalion moved forward where in May they saw their first action of the war at Aubers Ridge. By July, the pals had travelled north into Belgium where they were to fight in the 2nd Battle of Ypres.
Here again, after only a few short weeks, sadly another local soldier was to fall in battle. On July 26th 1915 Private William Herbert Cottrell was killed in action.
Biddulph Soldier Killed
“An intimation was received this week by Mr. H. Cottrell, Slater Street, Biddulph, from the War Office, that his son, Private W.H. Cottrell, 5th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, had been killed in action on Sunday July 25th. Private Cottrell was a collier, and enlisted in October at Goldthorpe, Yorkshire, where, with several other Biddulph men, he had gone to work. His pal, Private Jack Wilshaw, who went to the front at the same time, and Private W. Shallcross, two other Biddulph colliers who enlisted from Goldthorpe, have both previously fallen in action.”
Staffordshire Sentinel August 7th 1915
William Herbert is buried at Talana Farm Cemetery, Ypres and is commemorated on the St. Lawrence churchyard cross and memorial board and also on the Biddulph cenotaph. Locally his surname is inscribed as ‘Cottrell’, however the CWGC uses the spelling ‘Cotterill’.
Mike Turnock & Elaine Heathcote.