Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
iain mchenry

The naming of Cotter Crater, Bellewaerde Ridge.

Recommended Posts

iain mchenry

In the early part of 1917 when the 55th Division held the line on the Bellewaerde Ridge, there was a dramatic increase in the tempo of mining under the ridge. Traditionally craters on the ridge had been numbered, both German and British. With a lot more craters appearing and attempting to stop any confusion creeping in, VIII Corps approved a request by 55th Div to name craters on the Ridge. I have plans by 177 Tunnelling Company of all the craters on the ridge and with research through 55th Div HQ War Diary appendicies and War Diaries of the infantry units in the division it can be seen who various craters are named after. We have craters named after GOC Brigade, Battalion Commanders, Young officers leading crater consolidation parties and Officers of 177 Tunnelling Company.

On the 4th March 1917 at 1915hrs the Germans blew a mine in front of their lines as an attempt to make a bombing post in a defensive mining move. This crater was named Cotter crater but I cannot find reference anywhere as to who it was named after. Can anyone help with where Cotter crater gets its name from? quoting source reference as well please.

Many thanks

Iain

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
willy

In the early part of 1917 when the 55th Division held the line on the Bellewaerde Ridge, there was a dramatic increase in the tempo of mining under the ridge. Traditionally craters on the ridge had been numbered, both German and British. With a lot more craters appearing and attempting to stop any confusion creeping in, VIII Corps approved a request by 55th Div to name craters on the Ridge. I have plans by 177 Tunnelling Company of all the craters on the ridge and with research through 55th Div HQ War Diary appendicies and War Diaries of the infantry units in the division it can be seen who various craters are named after. We have craters named after GOC Brigade, Battalion Commanders, Young officers leading crater consolidation parties and Officers of 177 Tunnelling Company.

On the 4th March 1917 at 1915hrs the Germans blew a mine in front of their lines as an attempt to make a bombing post in a defensive mining move. This crater was named Cotter crater but I cannot find reference anywhere as to who it was named after. Can anyone help with where Cotter crater gets its name from? quoting source reference as well please.

Many thanks

Iain

William Richard Cotter, East Coast regt, ( The Buffs) won a VC at Hohenzollern Redoubt, France,1916, having been badly wounded, he organised the defence of a crater, a long shot iain, but maybe your crater is somehow named after this guys action?, but you probably know this anyway!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
iain mchenry

His name had crossed my mind mate, but I really doubt it as apart from one crater all the others are named after Officers who served up on the ridge with the 55th Div or 177 Tunnelling Coy. I am ready to be proved wrong though!!

Regards

Iain

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
willy

His name had crossed my mind mate, but I really doubt it as apart from one crater all the others are named after Officers who served up on the ridge with the 55th Div or 177 Tunnelling Coy. I am ready to be proved wrong though!!

Regards

Iain

Just thought as there was a link with craters? hopefully a learned member will prove how it was named, we shall see.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ian Riley

Iain,

I am working on this and searching my typed notes on 55th (West Lancashire) Division. As you know, I have been interested in the development of the infantry side of crater warfare when 55th Division are occupying the Railway Wood sector as an aspect of their tactical development. I have seen letters to VIII Corps seeking to name the one crater Bill and the other crater Ben (or whatever). Cotter doesw not ring a bell. Clearly the Corps Commander took an interest in crater-christening - surprising there were not Hunter and Bunter Craters (or perhaps this is exactly why there were not!).

The CO of 275 Brigade RFA (part of the 55th Division) was, at some stage, Lieutenant-Colonel EB Cotter DSO (this from the front pages of Coop's divisional history). Cotter appears to have survived the war so it unlikely to be a 'memorial' naming. So far I have no other clues

Yours

Ian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
iain mchenry

Hi Ian,

Many thanks for the above post, I was hoping you would come to the rescue. I'll be interested to see what you can find. I am nearly sure that all the craters names link to a person who was on the ridge at the time of their blow. Only one or two craters are named as memorial. Your initial info about Lt Col EB Cotter RFA is looking interesting. When 177 Tunnelling Coy blew a mine on the 1st March 1917, to be named Buckley Crater after the CO of the 5th Kings, the mine blow was preceeded with a heaavy artillery shoot on the German lines. This was to try and shepherd Germans into the area above the mine charge to cause maximum casualties. Although that mine was named after an Infanteer, the next mine to be blown a few days later is Cotter crater!

Also a bit about your interest in 55th Div and crater warefare, I am sure that you already have this but are you aware that Major Momber DSO MC RE who took over as OC 177 T Coy was very experienced in this Tunnelling/Infantry co-operation from his previous post as OC 178 T Coy in the Givenchy / Vimy sector. There are lots of references, signals etc in 55th Div HQ War Diary Appedicies to the fact that Momber delivers a number of lectures on the subject of crater consolidation. There are also a few papers, in appendicies, infantry guide to action prior to and following large mine blows.

Regards

Iain

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chris_Baker

E. B. Cotter was an RGA officer, attached to 286 (II West Lancs) Bde RFA.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ian Riley

E. B. Cotter was an RGA officer, attached to 286 (II West Lancs) Bde RFA.

Chris and Iain,

I did see that in searching the MICs for a likely Cotter (before I thought to look at Coop's book) but I am quoting the information regarding his 275th Brigade appointment from the table of command and staff appointments given by JO Coop (Senior Divisional Padre) who wrote his history,The Story of the 55th Division 1916-1918, whilst still in Belgium with the Divisional HQ in March 1919. Coop clearly found time to break off from his gastronomic interest (I gather than much of his correspondence concerns food parcels and his subsequent guide book to the battlefields stresses the importance of taking one's own corkscrew) to write up the divisional 'history' as the first (according to John Bourne) to be published. Unfortunately it is quite brief as a result and makes virtually no other references to names.

Cotter's four MICs seem to indicate a certain amount of interchangeability between branches of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. Captain Wadsworth's War Diary of the 1st West Lancashire Brigade RFA (aka 275 Brigade) states that Cotter was in command 'from the Somme [autumn 1916] until falling sick and being replaced by Lt Col Rettie' in May 1917. So Cotter appears to be command of 275th Brigade RFA at the relevant time for the blowing of Cotter Crater. An extract from Wadsworth's book shows that 275 Brigade was associated with mining/infantry operations at the relevant time (although not linked specifically to your German mine of March 4th)

Wadsworth (p.60):

On February 28th [1917] the forward section of "A" Battery, which had stayed silent in Gibraltar Farm, cut wire in Railway Wood and then withdrew. It was an adventurous thing to to do, for they were in a well-known position and very close up. One man was killed and two wounded by the enemy's retaliation. The following day a large mine was blown in Railway Wood and our infantry occupied the near lip of the crater while two days later the 9th King's Liverpool Regiment raided the German trenches near the railway-crossing and brought back two prisoners.

<P dir=ltr>I think my money might be on Lieutenant-Colonel Cotter as the naming source. My (automated) search for Cotter through the forest of 55th Division notes failed for some reason twice last night. I will try to be more selective but am a bit short of time just at the moment.

Ian

<P dir=ltr>PS Iain: thanks for the notes on Momber. I had picked up most of this - I think he was pressed into service after one or two major faux pas on the part of infantry battalions when craters were blown in fornt of their lines and 'nobody noticed' - I think you will have seen the somewhat acerbic correspondence regarding this when embarrassed infantry battalions are ignorant of the fact that a new crater has appeared on their immediate front until told by Divisional staff who have been casually glancing at the latest aerial photography. I sent an e-mail last summer with some of my stuff (referenced) - I will resend it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
iain mchenry

Ian and Chris,

Many thanks for the info chaps. I am certainly leaning more to thinking that Lt Col Cotter is the chap I should be looking at. Many thanks for your help in this matter Ian.

The faux pas you mention in the last para of you post above is where the Germans blow the mines across the Menin Road believed to be tank obstacles. There is certainly some interesting correspondance between individuals with regard to the lack of reporting of these mines and therefore not getting a consolidation or recce party out to them. I am sure a few backsides were roasted for that one! Have you seen the well known oblique aerial of these craters?

Best regards

Iain

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ken Lees

Iain,

Major (Acting Lieutenant Colonel) Edmund Brian COTTER

275 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (T.F.)

Date of recommendation: 05/03/17

Award recommended: Distinguished Service Order

"This officer has commanded his Brigade with marked success since October, 1916. He has shown great initiative and resource in command of a group and has brought his Brigade to a high state of efficiency."

Could the date of the recommendation be a coincidence?

[source: Jeudwine Papers, Liverpool Record Office]

Ken

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ian Riley

Nice one, Ken. Well spotted.

I would say that is a 'clincher' given that this will be (for those who don't know the Jeudwine papers) the date of the original manuscript recommendation by the GOC within Divisional HQ. I have a feeling that it was Corps HQ (VIII) that had the final say-so on naming - perhaps Iain could confirm or contradict.

Ian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ken Lees

I'd agree with you, Ian. This recommendation would have been on Jeudwine's desk, indeed probably written by him the day after the crater was blown and would have been an obvious choice.

Ken

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
iain mchenry

Ken and Ian,

I certainly think you have come up trumps with Cotter! Many thanks for your help. The approvals to name the craters that are in the appendicies of the 55th Div HQ War Diary, originate from VIII Corps.

Best regards

Iain

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...