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John Cottam was born in Croston, Lancashire in 1889 the son of James and Jane Cottam (nee Dalton). His parents married at St. Michael and All Angels Church in Croston on the 10th February 1880 and they went on to have at least twelve children, seven of whom survived; Sarah Beatrice (1880), Gertrude Ann (1883), John (1889)*, William (1890), Arthur Edward (1891), Margaret Jane (1893) and Ada Elizabeth (1895).

In 1901 John`s father was a shopkeeper (draper/grocer) and the family was living on Town Road in Croston. His mother Jane was also listed as a draper and elder sister Gertrude Ann was a milliner.  In 1908 John married Elizabeth Welch in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Eccleston near Chorley, Elizabeth already had a son who had been born in 1906, his name was Arthur Cottam Welch which perhaps suggests that John may well have been his father and then in 1909 the couple had a daughter, Alice Amelia. The Census of 1911 shows John, Elizabeth and their two children living in Eccleston where John was employed as a teams man in a corn mill.

John enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 12th April 1916 and was issued with the service number 23817. Unfortunately his service papers have not survived so very little of his service details are known. He embarked for France at some point and later became a stretcher bearer with the 9th Battalion LNL.

Towards the end of 1916 and into January 1917 the Battalion was in the Ploegsteert area, alternating between trenches and the Regina rest camp. On the 18th January 1917, having had a brief spell in the support trenches, the Battalion moved into the front line trenches after relieving the 13th Battalion Cheshire Regiment. Sadly, John was killed two days later whilst doing his duty as a stretcher bearer, his date of death recorded as being 20th July 1917.

After the war John`s widow Elizabeth would have received his British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled together with his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

His entry in the Chorley Memorial Books, compiled after the war by Susannah Knight and now held at Astley Hall, recorded the fact that John was killed whilst helping a wounded comrade.

He was laid to rest with honour in Berks Cemetery Extension;

Photo taken October 2016 – Berks Cemetery Extension

Janet Davis
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