A further installment in Geoffrey Cotterell’s letters about the search for his missing brother, Anthony. The picture on this post is of the memorial plaque affixed to the former Post Office at Brummen, outside which, on 23 September 1944, the SS shot into a truckload of British prisoners. Several were wounded, two dying at the scene. The exact nature of Anthony’s wounds were a subject of intense speculation because his family were hoping that he had been able to survive them.
This latest extract from the letters shows Geoffrey going for the first time to Brummen, to the scene of the shooting, which had occurred just over one year earlier.
Accurate post-war confirmation of the graves of British servicemen could be an extremely complicated and difficult task. Cemetery records were not always correct, and sometimes only an exhumation could solve difficult cases. Even then, an answer was not necessarily forthcoming. The complex story of some British graves at Enschede in Holland illustrates this point perfectly.
Major Anthony Cotterell disappeared after a war crime was committed against British prisoners of war after the battle of Arnhem in September 1944.
Despite intensive post-war investigations, his fate was never determined. The tombstone for his supposed grave at Enschede, in Holland, notes at the top, ‘Buried near this spot’, reflecting the uncertainty as to where he actually lay.
André van Aarsen has recently sent information on a possible explanation for Anthony’s fate. See the comments attached to the previous post: Missing Soldier-Journalist: Anthony Cotterell
The above picture was carried in his wallet by Anthony’s devoted brother Geoffrey throughout his long post-war search for the truth of what had happened to Anthony. Anthony had disappeared in Holland after being wounded during a war crime committed by the SS against unarmed British prisoners of war.
As a Major serving in Occupied Germany after the war, Geoffrey was in a unique position to carry out investigations which began one year after Anthony had disappeared.