19 December 1916
Anthony Cotterell born in Plymouth, first child of Graham and Millicent Cotterell. The picture above is of him as a baby with his mother and his aunt Jane (right).
24 November 1919
Birth of his only brother, Geoffrey.
After the First World War ends, the family move to Lowestoft, where Graham is an assistant in the dental practice of Mr Brittain, the father of Benjamin Brittain, the composer.
In the 1920s, the family move to Wanstead in Essex, where Graham starts his own dental practice and makes a great success of it. Their house, Ham Frith, remains the Cotterell family home for the next 35 years or so.
Having won a scholarship, Anthony begins at Kings School, Rochester.
Anthony wins another scholarship, and begins combined medical and dental studies at Guy’s Hospital, London.
At a summer school in Oxford, he meets George Edinger, a feature writer and political correspondent on The Daily Express. Inspired by his example, Anthony works very hard – and very successfully – at freelance journalism.
Anthony is taken on the permanent staff of The Daily Express.
His first book is published, The Expert Way of Getting Married.
15 March – Anthony is conscripted into the Army.
9 April – the Germans invade Denmark and Norway.
10 May – Belgium and Holland are invaded; Churchill becomes Prime Minister; Anthony’s initial training course finishes.
12 May – France is invaded.
15 May – The Netherlands surrender.
28 May – Belgium surrenders.
25 June – Hostilities end in France.
29 June – Anthony begins four month Officer Training course.
August – Battle of Britain
7 September – London Blitz starts
12 October – Anthony finishes Officer Training and receives the lowest grade possible – D.
19 October – He is posted to the Royal Fusiliers as a 2nd Lieutenant.
January – publication of What? No Morning Tea!
Publication of Oh, It’s Nice to be in the Army
14 May – posted to Guards Brigade for duties as a Motor Coordination Officer.
17 April – posted to the War Office, and thence to Army Bureau of Current Affairs (ABCA). Here he works on a bulletin called WAR, for which he will eventually become both editor and star correspondent.
Publication of She Walks in Battle Dress
Publication of Roof Over Britain
3 June – becomes a Major, the highest rank he will hold in the Army.
Late 1943 or early 1944 – publication of RAMC.
6 June – D-Day
Anthony lands soon after the first wave of assault troops. He writes about D-Day for WAR, and subsequently covers 4 weeks of the Normandy campaign as a guest gunner travelling in a tank of the Sherborne Rangers, part of 8th Armoured Division.
End of June – returns to England.
1 – he goes on attachment to 1st Parachute Brigade HQ of the British Airborne forces.
17 – Operation MARKET GARDEN commences.
Anthony parachutes into Holland with 1st Parachute Brigade HQ, and is with them at the battle for the Arnhem bridge.
21 – Anthony – who is with the Brigade Major for 1st Parachute Brigade HQ, Tony Hibbert – is captured by the Germans.
23 – Anthony is seriously wounded when an German SS officer shoots into a truck crammed with unarmed British prisoners. The shooting takes place in the Dutch village of Brummen.
Anthony and the other wounded are later treated at a dressing station in Zutphen on the way to Germany. Later, the wounded and dead are transported to Enschede, on the Dutch-German border. They arrive at the Roman Catholic hospital St Joseph’s, which is run by a German staff. However, Anthony is not with the party.
25 – Alleged last sighting of Anthony in the X-ray department at Zutphen Hospital.
Disappears without trace.
4 – German-controlled Radio Hilversum in Holland puts out a message saying that Anthony has been severely wounded ‘trying to escape’.
5 – Publication of An Apple for the Sergeant.
8 May – the war in Europe ends.
The search for Anthony and thousands of other British servicemen missing in Europe commences, but the truth about his disappearance is never discovered.
His service record notes “Presumed for official purposes to have died in Europe on or since 25th September 1944”.
His parents refuse to believe that he is dead.
His father Graham finally puts affairs in motion to settle Anthony’s estate. However, Anthony’s mother never accepts that he is dead.
Late 1970s, early 80s
A gravestone is erected near Anthony’s possible place of burial in Enschede in Holland.
An annual memorial service is instituted to commemorate Anthony and the other airborne soldiers shot by the Germans at Brummen on 23rd September 1944.
Death of Anthony’s devoted brother, Geoffrey Cotterell.