Private Maurice Edward Cotter


Maurice Edward Cotter was born on 27 December 1878 at Cloyne, County Cork, one of nine children of butler Henry Cotter and his wife Mary (née Ahern). By 1901 he was working as a domestic servant and three years later as a valet. That year he married Lizzie Bradley in the Roman Catholic Chapel, Queenstown (Cork). The couple had three children over the following nine years. By the time of the 1911 Census, Cotter was working as butler on the Newman estate at Newberry Manor, Mallow.

Cotter enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Londonderry on 9 August 1914 (No.964), no doubt with the encouragement and support of his employer, Captain Richard Griffith Oliver Bramston-Newman. He understated his age by eight years.

On 17 November 1915 he embarked for France with F Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 33rd Division. Bramston-Newman was commanding officer of the squadron.

In June 1916 F Squadron combined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and most of its men were transferred to the infantry. Cotter, however, continued in the service of Bramston-Newman, returning to the UK on 24 October and then, on 1 December, transferring to the Labour Corps (No.490705), where he was posted to No.395 Home Service Employment Company.

When Bramston-Newman was ordered to France to command a Labour Corps group, with the rank of temporary lieutenant colonel, he applied to have Cotter accompany him. The War Office replied that:

... sanction cannot be given for Major RGO Bramston Newman to take No 490705 Pte Cotter M.E., overseas as his servant. There is, however, no objection to Pte Cotter's inclusion in an early draft, provided he is fit for overseas. Major Newman should then endeavour to secure the man's services on arrival abroad.

Cotter was examined by a medical board on 14 January 1918, but was found unfit for overseas service. He remained with the Labour Corps on home service until the end of the war. On 10 May 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. He was granted a disability pension due to 'debility' and 'myalgia', both attributed to his military service.