126 Ernest Cotterell


With the passing of time, memories fade and stories are forgotten, but the modern world and the vast network of information and technology that surrounds us, has helped to rediscover our history and bring new life to many personal stories.

Archiving the stories of the brave men of the 1st FCE has been a fabulous journey and it continues to reveal unexpected as well as new and exciting information.

The search for portraits of each member of the 1st Field Company Engineers whilst initially seemingly impossible, has proven to be very successful to date.

One such portrait which has come to hand was passed on courtesy of Christopher Sykes the great nephew of sapper 126 Ernest Cotterell.

The embarkation of the first Australian Imperial Forces had been delayed and rescheduled on more than one occasion and the level of anxiety among the men was noted by all ranks. Sadly for Ernest, the delay’s would fuel his own anxiety and mental suffering.

Six weeks after enlisting on the evening of the 5th October 1914 Ernest sustained a self inflicted gunshot to the head and he died instantly.

192 William Phillips mentioned in his diary the gloom that fell over the camp on news of the tragedy and briefly described the Military funeral of Sapper Cotterell. “Our boys marched to Waverley Cemetery behind gun-carriage with coffin. A fine procession, and touching ceremony.”

It is with many thanks to Christopher Sykes that the memory of both Ernest and his brother Frederick can be commemorated with the addition of their portraits.

Ernest’s story was published earlier…READ MORE 

Full Military Honours

Ernest War Grave Waverley plaque
126 Ernest Cotterell – War Grave Waverley Cemetery NSW.

126 Ernest Cotterell left his home in England in 1914 and had not long arrived in Australia, and within 5 months enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces. He was an “original” Sapper for only 6 weeks.

Ernest did not embark with his new mates on the 18th October 1914 on the “Great Adventure” and although he was only with his fellow sappers for a brief time, he would make a significant impression on their lives and their preparations for war.

Ernest’s story is now available on his own page………….Please read