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Of the 840 golf professionals known to be members of the PGA in 1913, a year before the First World War broke out, it is reckoned than more than fifty failed to return from the battlefields.
They included three of the four golf professional Cottrell brothers from Guiseley in Yorkshire.
Harry, Albert and William Cottrell were all killed in action. Only their youngest brother, Leslie, who worked as a pro in the USA, avoided the same fate because he was not old enough to enlist.
Harry, the eldest of the siblings, and Albert began their golfing careers with Harry Fulford at Bradford GC.
Harry went on to become the professional at Ulverston, whilst Fulford encouraged Albert to see some of the world and so sent him to work with Brian Hylton H. Cockburn, a fellow Yorkshireman, at Le Touquet in France.
The war broke out six months later and both Harry and Albert enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters. Their father, Henry, had served as a sergeant in the same regiment during his own army career.
The pair ultimately served together in the Dardanelles during the Battle of Gallipoli. It was during this particular conflict, on August 9, 1915, that Albert was wounded during the landing at Suvla Bay. It is believed that Harry, noticing his brother had been hit, went to Albert’s aid and was dressing his wounds when he was shot dead by a sniper. A second shot then killed Albert.
Their brother William, formerly the professional at Otley Golf Club, played in the 1913 Open at Royal Liverpool. He had emigrated to the USA in 1914 aboard the RMS Baltic and was working as the professional at Plymouth Country Club in Massachusetts when the war broke out.
He volunteered for active service when America entered the conflict in 1917, enlisting with the US Army service and joining the 58th Infantry Regiment.
He was killed in the Battle of Meuse on October 6, 1918, just two days after his 27th birthday and a month before hostilities ended.
It is believed that his body is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American cemetery and memorial in France. His death is recorded on the family headstone in Guiseley.
We will remember them.
* With thanks to the Professional Golfers’ Association.
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