Richard Stephen Cotter

Additional Information: 

Son of Thomas and Jemima Cotter, of Arrowtown, Otago, New Zealand.

  • CWGC
  • Archives New Zealand

Public Contributions:

RICHARD STEPHEN COTTER (26 December 1893 – 23 October 1918) was the eldest of 12 children (7 daughters and 5 sons), born to Thomas James and Jemima Hamilton Cotter (married 19 December 1892, at St.... Read More
RICHARD STEPHEN COTTER (26 December 1893 – 23 October 1918) was the eldest of 12 children (7 daughters and 5 sons), born to Thomas James and Jemima Hamilton Cotter (married 19 December 1892, at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Arrowtown). He was named Richard for his paternal grandfather, and Stephen for he was born on the Feast of St. Stephen. While his parents remained for many years on the Otago goldfields (Arrowtown, Skippers and Bullendale), family lore recounts that he was sent to his maternal grandparents in Dunedin to apprentice in the grocery business. His siblings always remembered that they felt somewhat distanced from him because of that. His parents were a striking couple, especially his mother, noted for her serene calm, even in the face of difficulty. Raising 12 children on the side of a mountain seemed never to phase her – and the legendary family sagas include details of her making 365 pots of jam each year (one consumed each day), freshly laundered and starched pinafores for the girls every day, and feeding what seemed half of the mining community at Sunday lunch – invariably her husband would invite so many extras that the poor woman habitually roasted a side of lamb every Sunday morning. Jemima cared for everyone, including her aging parents-in-law. Her father in law, Richard Cotter, almost blind from cataracts, was under her care even as late as 1918. It was one of those few occasions when she herself was indisposed, in late October 1918, when she was told, “Richard has died.” Her response, thinking it was her father-in-law, was one of resignation, with words such as, “He was old, and he lived a good life.” When told, “No, Jemima, Richard, your son,” those present witnessed an outpouring of anger and sorrow, of despair and grief, of rage and fury, the likes of which they had never seen. Over 60 years later, her younger children remembered it all as if it had happened just yesterday, adding “It took Mother weeks to regain any sense of composure, and she never went a day without mourning his death, and praying for the eternal rest of his immortal soul.” The family never forgot Richard Stephen, and they treasured the correspondence with the War Graves’ Commission concerning the wording of his headstone (I. H. 23: Delsaux Farm Cemetery, just south of Beugny, FRANCE), which specifically mentions his parents and Otago, New Zealand. And on 6 February 1929, at the wedding of their third daughter, Tom and Jemima Cotter had a photo taken surrounded by their 12 [!] children. Jemima herself instructed Steffano [Francis Paulovich] Webb (1880-1967), the eminent New Zealand photographer then working at 252 High St., Christchurch, to arrange the group so as to leave room for Richard Stephen. This Webb did – and more. Posing Jemima with her left hand raised (all the others have their hands relaxed), and with her left index finger to her left cheek, to this day she seems deep in thought, as if remembering that young soldier whose image Webb subsequently superimposed at the very back, just over her left shoulder. For her, Richard Stephen seems as present as were his siblings. The group comprises (number in the family) – Back, left to right: Patrick [Pat] Francis Christopher (3) Margaret Kathleen [Kathy] (7; the bridesmaid) Thomas [Tom] James (8) Frances [Fanny] Teresa (4) Richard Stephen (1; in uniform) John [Jack] Joseph (5) Jane [Jean] Hazel (11) Dorothy Eileen [Auntie] (10) Front, left to right: Alexander [Aleck] William (12) Mary [May] Hamilton (2) Ellen [Nellie] Owen (6; the bride) Jemima Hamilton Cotter Thomas James Cotter Jemima Josephine Grace [Grace] (9) For further details, personal information (birth and death dates of all, married names, etc.), and variant readings of family lore, contact [!]: <[email protected]>

Personal Tributes:


Service Number: 
Richard Stephen Cotter
Date of Birth:
Not known
Next of Kin: 
Mrs Jemima Cotter (mother), Box 6, Arrowtown, Otago, New Zealand
Date of Enlistment:
Not known
Enlistment Address: 
25 Chalmers Street, Northeast Valley, Dunedin, New Zealand
Armed Force: 
NZEF, Otago Regiment, 2 Battalion

Casualty Details

Cause of Death:
Died of wounds
Date of Death:
24 October 1918
Day of Death:
Age at Death: 

Embarkation Details

Embarkation Body:
6th Reinforcements
Embarkation Place:
Wellington, New Zealand
Embarkment Date:
14 August 1915

Willochra or Tofua
Suez, Egypt

Text in italics supplied by Cenotaph Online, Auckland War Memorial Museum


Cemetery Reference: 
I. H. 23.
Cemetery Location: 
Richard Stephen Cotter
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