Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
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5849   Rifleman William Cotter
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 09/02/2021
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (British Army)
Date Of Birth: 02/10/1879
Died: 16/06/1915 (Killed in Action)
Age: 35
Summary      
William Cotter was born in Aughnacloy on 2nd October 1879. He was the second oldest of at least eight children, all born in the Aughnacloy area.He lived in Belfast and was employed by Belfast tramways. William was a reservist and enlisted in Belfast. Rifleman William Cotter was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles when he was killed in action on the Western Front at the Battle of Bellewaarde on 16th June 1915. He was wounded early on the morning of the 16th, but refused to go to the dressing station, and later on in the day a shell exploded close to his trench which caused it to fall in and Rifleman Cotter was buried in the debris.
Rifleman William Cotter
Further Information
It is believed William Cotter was the brother of Thomas Cotter for three reasons. The first is that the date and location of birth match. The second is that William had two brothers who served. The third is that there was a sister called Mary.
William Cotter was the eldest son of William Cotter and Sarah Callaghan were married on 21st April 1876 in the district of Dungannon.
William Cotter was born in Aughnacloy on 2nd October 1879. He was the second oldest of at least eight children, five surviving, all born in the Aughnacloy area.
Estimated family: William Cotter, Sarah / Mary Jane Cotter, Mary Cotter (born 20th February 1877), William Cotter (born 2nd October 1879), Susan Cotter (born 23rd October 1881, died 5th November 1881), Susan Cotter (born 23rd December 1882, died 16th February 1883), Unnamed son (born 31st January 1884, died 8th February 1884), Thomas Cotter (born 21st August 1885), James Cotter (born 11th September 1888), Susan Cotter (born 22nd May 1891).
William Cotter was employed by Belfast tramways.
William, who was a reservist, enlisted in Belfast.
Medal card
Rifleman Cotter arrived in France on 12th September 1914.
Rifleman William Cotter was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles when he was killed in action on the Western Front at the Battle of Bellewaarde on 16th June 1915. He was 35 years old.
Rifleman Cotter was wounded early on the morning of the 16th, but refused to go to the dressing station, and later on in the day a shell exploded close to his trench which caused it to fall in and Rifleman Cotter was buried in the debris.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 1st September 1915:
A letter received from his captain in the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, states that Rifleman William Cotter, who was previously reported missing, was killed in action on 15th June. The captain goes on to say that Rifleman Cotter was wounded early on the morning of the 16th, but refused to go to the dressing station, and later on in the day a shell exploded close to the trench, which caused it to fall in, and Cotter was buried in the debris. The deceased, who was one of three brothers serving with the colours, was a reservist, employed by Belfast tramways. His sister, Mrs Hunter, resides at 7 Copperfield Street, Belfast.
William was one of three brothers serving in the war.
Rifleman William Cotter has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres.
The CWGC record Rifleman Cotter as the brother of Mrs Mary Hunter of 7 Copperfield Street, Belfast.
Mary Hunter was married to James Hunter, who was a seaman, according to Lennox Wylie 1912.
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GRONI References
TYPE - B:Birth M:Marriage D:Death | GRONI | SIBLING: brother or sister | NOTES: spelling inconsistencies, etc.
Date Type Surname First name Relationship GRONI Ref Notes
21/04/1876 M Callaghan Sarah Parent M/1876/T1/2556/2/146
21/04/1876 M Cotter William Parent M/1876/T1/2556/2/146
20/02/1877 B Cotter Mary Sibling U/1877/76/1026/5/142 Calaghan
02/10/1879 B Cotter William Casualty U/1879/76/1026/6/5 Calaghan
23/10/1881 B Cotter Susan Sibling U/1881/76/1026/6/271 Calaghan
05/11/1881 D Cotter Susan Sibling D/1881/76/1026/4/366 died age 0
23/12/1882 B Cotter Susan Sibling U/1883/76/1026/6/419
16/02/1883 D Cotter Susan Sibling D/1883/76/1026/4/459 died age 0
31/01/1884 B Cotter Not Capt M Sibling U/1884/76/1026/7/42
08/02/1884 D Cotter Not Capt M Sibling D/1884/76/1026/5/51 died age 0
21/08/1885 B Cotter Thomas Sibling U/1885/76/1026/7/216
11/09/1888 B Cotter James Sibling U/1888/76/1026/8/268 Calaghan
22/05/1891 B Cotter Susan Sibling U/1891/76/1026/9/7
29/01/1918 D Cotter Thomas Sibling D/1918/43/1007/7/217 died age 30
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 Battle of Bellewaarde Photo of William Cotter
2 Belfast Street Directory 1912 7 Copperfield Street - James Hunter, seaman
3 Ireland Memorial Record Lists William Cotter from Aughnacloy
4 National Archives UK Medal Card can be purchased here
5 Sapper Thomas Cotter Brother of Rifleman Willliam Cotter
Dungannon District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2015-2021