Frederick Cotton was born in Southampton towards the end of 1887. On 19th September 1911, Frederick married Fanny Cooper at the Northam Methodist Church. They were the first couple to be married in the church and they were presented with a bible to mark the occasion. Frederick was a tram driver at the time and the family were living at 50 Radcliffe Road, Northam. In 1913, Frederick was appointed as a Trustee at Northam Methodist Church and in the same year their son Frederick was born. A second son, Albert, was born in 1916.
Frederick joined the Royal Army Service Corps in June 1916 and served on the Western Front as a Private with the 15th Mechanical Transport Division, responsible for the movement of supplies to the frontline, including weapons and ammunition. He died of septicaemia on 7th July 1918 and was likely to have been tended to by the casualty clearing station alongside the Aubigny Communal Cemetery which was his final resting place. One of his last duties was as batman to an officer who wrote a very moving letter to his wife Frederick’s wife Fanny.
“ He was buried with full military honours in a quiet peaceful cemetery out here….. a more willing and trustworthy man it would be hard to meet …he always went out of his way to do anyone a good turn and he was very popular with everyone he came into contact with”.
Fredrick’s grandson Tony and his wife Lynne visited Frederick’s grave and recorded the family inscription on his gravestone. It is “Until the Day Breaks” from the Song of Solomon (Ch.4, verse 6) which had been a quote taken from the family bible. Lynne wrote an article in the church magazine telling the story of their visit to the war graves.
Frederick’s grandson Tony wrote a letter to the Southampton Daily Echo in February 2009 campaigning for the names on the Cenotaph to be re-engraved as they were fading through erosion over the years to ensure that “their name liveth forever more”. He recalled that his grandmother and father,Fredrick, had attended the Cenotaph’s dedication ceremony on 6th November 1920, and that when his father took him and his sisters to town in the 1950s, he took “great pride in showing us the name of Frederick John Cotton engraved on the Cenotaph”.