Anthony, right, and Geoffrey, left, with their mother Mintie between them. Taken at the family home, Ham Frith, Wanstead, around 1930.
One of the original inspirations behind this website was the story of the Cotterell brothers, Anthony and Geoffrey. It is a story of lifelong devotion to a brother’s memory, and the search to find out the truth of what happened to him.
Anthony disappeared without trace after the battle of Arnhem in September 1943. He had been with the parachutists at the bridge and like all that force who survived the brutal fighting was captured and held by the Germans prior to transportation to Germany. On the way to Germany, he was seriously injured when the SS opened up on his lorry, which was packed with unarmed prisoners of war. This happened in the Dutch village of Brummen. The wounded were moved to Zutphen. Anthony’s last known whereabouts are in a commandeered house where he was treated for his injuries.
Geoffrey was at that time a major in the British Army. In 1945, after the war ended, he obtained a posting to Germany with the intent of carrying out investigations into what had happened to his much-loved only brother. His many letters home to his parents tell of what he discovered and the many heart-breaking dead-ends that he encountered.
Even after he was demobbed, he never gave up the hope of discovering the truth and periodically returned to Holland for the rest of his long life.
Sadly, Geoffrey died in 2011 without ever knowing the answer to how Anthony had died or where he had been buried.
Anthony’s gravestone is at Enschede, on the Dutch-German border, but it has never been verified that it is actually him in the grave.