The AIF Project

Eric Otto Orwell COTTER

Regimental number57
Date of birth11 February 1895
Place of birthSydney, New South Wales
ReligionChurch of England
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation20
Next of kinMother, Catherine Cotter, 2 Selwyn, Paddington, Sydney, New South Wales
Previous military serviceServed for 4 years in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve.
Enlistment date11 March 1915
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll13 May 1915
Rank on enlistmentAble Bodied Driver
Unit name1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train
AWM Embarkation Roll numberMIS34.12.1.RANBT1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board A39 Port Macquarie on 4 June 1915
Rank from Nominal RollGunner
Unit from Nominal Roll14th Field Artillery Brigade
FateKilled in Action 1 October 1917
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 7), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Other details

War service: arrived Lemnos, 21 July 1915. Disembarked Alexandria from Mudros, 20 January 1916 (general Gallipoli evacuation).

Admitted to 1st Australian stationary Hospital, Ismailia, 16 February 1916; transferred to 1st Australian General Hospital, Heliopolis, 18 February 1916 (malaria: serious); to Choubra Infectious Hospital, 29 February 1916; to 3rd Auziliary Hospital, Heliopolis, 21 March 1916; to Ras el Tin Convalescent Camp, 23 March 1916. Rejoined RANBT, Kubri West, 12 May 1916.

Transferred to Artillery as Gunner, No. 57. Embarked for Marseilles, 3 June 1917. Taken on strength, Australian Artillery Training Depot, England, 14 June 1917. Found guilty, 23 June 1917, of being absent without leave, 0600, 23 June, to 2100, 26 June 1917: awarded 5 days' confinement to barracks and forfeiture of 4 days' pay.

Proceeded overseas to France, 8 August 1917; taken on strength, 14th Field Artillery Brigade, and posted to 55th Battery, 13 August 1917.

Killed in action, 1 October 1917.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

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