COMPANY QUARTERMASTER SERJEANT JOHN EDWARD CATTRALL
ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
24TH MARCH 1918 AGE 38
BURIED: NOYON NEW BRITISH CEMETERY, OISE, FRANCE
John Edward Cattrall's inscription comes from a prayer written by John Henry Newman (1801-1890):
O Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life, until the shades lengthen and the evening comes, the fever of life is over and our work done; then Lord, in thy great mercy, grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest and peace at the last, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Cattrall, an ordained Congregational Minister, served throughout the war with the 44th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Service Corps. Dedicated to being a soldier of Christ in civilian life, he saw it as his duty to be a soldier of his King during the war, albeit in a non-combative role.
In March 1918 the 44th were stationed just south of St Quentin on the Crozat Canal. At 5 am on the morning of 21 March the Germans launched their Spring Offensive, the force of the onslaught pushing the British back from their lines. 'With the Forty-Fourths Being a Record of the Doings of the 44th Field Ambulance (14th Division)', apart from providing a colourful account of the doings of the unit throughout the war, relates what happened to it in the face of the German advance:
"Back, back, back we went by degrees, doing what we could for the wounded at hastily extemporised dressing stations at Flavy-le-Martel ... , Villeselve, Beaumont-en-Beine and Guiscard. Shall we ever forget the packed state of the roads, the ebb southwards of the mauled units, and the coming through of the reliefs, especially the cavalry? It was grim satisfaction to know that the cavalry-men put up such a fight round our old quarters along the canal, that the channel was literally packed level with German dead. ... we had nearly reached Noyon. We were congratulating ourselves that we were almost outside the maelstrom, when a Fritz airman managed to plump a bomb right in the middle of us as we halted by the roadside. As bad luck would have it, the bomb fell on the hard road, with disastrous results. It killed eight of our lot ... "
QMS Cottrell was among those killed. Cottrell was the second of John and Mary Cottrell's seven children - six of them sons. His younger brother, Edgar, the fifth son, was killed in action serving with the 6th Battalion Shropshire Light Infantry on 26 August 1916.