Anthony Cotterell in 1936, the year he joined the ‘Daily Express’
A Daily Express journalist at a time when the Daily Express, under Lord Beaverbrook, was a major national newspaper, Anthony was conscripted into the Army in 1940 and thereafter – out of necessity – made the Army his main subject, writing numerous articles and books about soldiers’ lives during the Second World War.
After a very unsatisfactory first two years, he got his dream job. It was at ABCA, the Army Bureau of Current Affairs, which was part of the War Office. There, he became editor and star journalist of ABCA’s fortnightly booklet entitled WAR. The first issue was on 20 September 1941, and the last, and 97th, issue was on 23 June 1945.
Anthony in the ‘WAR’ office
Anthony’s articles in WAR were based on first-hand experience; he shared the lives and dangers of men on active service. He flew on several bombing raids, either with the United States Air Force or the RAF. He was with the troops in France on D-Day in June 1944. Subsequently, he spent three weeks as part of a tank crew of the Sherwood Rangers, part of the 8th Armoured Brigade which was fighting in Normandy.
His last reporting assignment was with 1 Airborne Division. On 17 September 1944, he went to Arnhem with them, got to the bridge, and like many others was captured when the struggle was over. On 23 September, he and several other British officers, who were being transported to Germany, were shot by the SS in the Dutch village of Brummen. Anthony was wounded but survived; however, later he disappeared, the only one of the wounded to do so.
The photograph which Geoffrey, Anthony’s brother, carried with him throughout his post-war search for Anthony.