A soldier who was awarded the Victoria Cross was remembered with a new memorial today – 100 years after the action which led to his recommendation.
Corporal William Cotter, who was born in Folkestone and whose parents lived in Sandgate, was honoured in a ceremony at the village church and war memorial this afternoon.
Following the service at St Paul’s Church, Sandgate Hill, there was a procession to the war memorial in Sandgate High Street with dignitaries and guests awaiting the arrival of a parade being led by the Band of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.
Cpl William Cotter was awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War.
The new paver was unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, The Viscount De L’Isle, this afternoon at the memorial.
Dozens of Cpl Cotter’s descendants attended the commemorations.
Cpl Cotter succumbed to the injuries he suffered eight days after the action while serving with the 6th Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) at the Hohenzollern Redoubt at Loos in France between March 6 and 7, 1916.
With his right leg blown off at the knee and wounds in both his arms, Cpl Cotter’s incredible bravery saw him crawl back to his unit 50 yards away which was pinned down inside a crater to lead his men. He spent 14 hours in the field unable to be taken back to British lines.
A letter signed by King George V to William’s parents.
For two hours he steadied the men holding the crater, controlled their fire and prepared them against a counter-attack.
He only allowed his wounds to be “roughly dressed” when the attacks quietened down, according to the citation in the London Gazette published on March 28, 1916, two weeks after his death, aged 33.
Cpl Cotter lived long enough to know that his actions had been successfully recommended for the Victoria Cross and Lt-Gen Sir Hubert Gough, commander of I Corps, pinned the medal to his chest while he lay in hospital at Lillers.
At the time, The Buffs were serving as part of the 37th Brigade in the 12th Eastern Division.
Cpl Cotter was born in Folkestone in 1882 and was the eldest of six sons of Richard and Amy Cotter, who lived at Barton Cottages in Sandgate.
His father was Irish and worked as a plasterer’s labourer. His five younger brothers also served during the war.
Cpl Cotter’s parents received the medal in memory of their son from King George V at Buckingham Palace.
He had written to them expressing his “sincere regret” that he would not be able to present it to Cpl Cotter personally.