Private John Cliff Higgins Cottrell


John Cliff Higgins Cottrell was born in 1891 at Neston, Birkenhead, Cheshire, one of six children of joiner Thomas Cottrell and his wife Ellen (née Tasker). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 31 Gladstone Road, Neston, with his mother and his four surviving siblings, and working as a screen labourer in a colliery.

Cottrell enlisted in the Hussars of the Line at Birkenhead on 23 July 1912. Posted to the 3rd (King's Own) Hussars (No.9099), he embarked for France with the regiment on 26 August 1914.

In September 1917, as part of a general reduction in the size of the cavalry, a number of men of the 3rd Hussars left the regiment. Its war diary of 15 September records that:

56 other ranks of the regiment proceeded by rail from Hesdin to the Rouen Base for transfer to Infantry on the reduction of the 100 dismounted men allowed to Cavalry regiments.

Between twenty-eight and thirty-four of these men, including Cottrell, were transferred to the North Irish Horse, joining the 1st (NIH) Regiment in the field on 11 October. Cottrell was issued regimental number 2717.

On 3 March 1918 Cottrell faced a Field General Court Martial charged with 'disobedience'. He was sentenced to 63 days' Field Punishment No.1.

In February-March 1918 the 1st (NIH) Regiment, which had been serving as corps cavalry to V Corps, was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit. This meant a 25 per cent reduction in the regiment's numbers. Cottrell was one of those transferred out, joining the 8th (King's Royal Irish) Hussars on 4 April.

He returned to the UK on 7 January 1919, and on 4 September was transferred to the Army Reserve, Section B. He was issued a new army number – 530414. He was briefly recalled to duty with the Hussars between April and June 1921.

Cottrell was discharged on the expiration of his twelve years' service on 22 July 1924. His military character was recorded as 'fair, latterly good'.