Pte Cecil James Cottis was born on 17th Aug 1895 in Great Stambridge, Essex the second youngest child of nine surviving children of William Jospeh and Kesiah Cottis. Like his brothers and sister Cecil worked in the family bakery business, in the High Street in Billericey, Essex. On the 21st July 1915 Cecil was with the 4th battalion as they sailed from Devonport for Gallipoli via Lemmos. The battalion landed at ‘C’ Beach in Suvla Bay during the evening of 12 August 1915, by the end of the month they had suffered losses of 157 killed or wounded, with another 217 sick. On the 4th December 1915 the 4th Essex Regiment were evacuated from Gallipoli and moved to Mudros, going on to Alexandria on the 17th December 1915. Cecil was transferred to the 11th Essex Regiment where he saw service in France. He was killed in action on the 17th September 1918 aged 23. Pte Cecil Cottis has no known grave and is remembered on The Memorial in Vis-en-Artois which commemorates the 9,847 Allied officers and men who were killed in the period from 8th August 1918 to 11th November 1918 which was known as The Advance To Victory.
Tragically Cecil’s elder brother Edwin was also killed on 28th March 1918, aged 39 while serving with the 2nd London Regiment. The brothers heartbroken parents erected a plaque in their memory inside St Mary Magdalene Church. High Street, Billericay. Two small plaques on the family grave also remember the brothers although with a discrepancy in the date of death. Edwin William March 28th 1918, aged 39 Cecil James Sept. 18th 1918 aged 23. Both killed in action in France in the Great War. “Until the day break and the darkness flee away”