Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 13, 1889
Place of BirthBarnett, Middlesex
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Bertha Annie Cottam, Hollington, Woodside Grange Rd., North Finchley,England
Trade / CallingStenographer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number21060
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion11th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 23, 1914
Age at Enlistment25
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 18, 1916
Age at Death26
Buried AtFriern Barnet (St. James The Great) Churchyard, Middlesex, United Kingdom

Cottam, James Melville

James Melville was born July 18th, 1889 in Hudely Wood, Middlesex, England to Henry Phillip Cottam (1847-1911) and Bertha Annie (b 1861). He had siblings Harry Guy (b 1882), Phillip Ashley Joy (b 1885), and Algernon Edward (1894). In 1901, the family lived in Hornsey, Middlesex, England, at 4 Glasslyn Road. His father  was a clerk, Central Office, Royal Court of Justice, and the family had a servant living in.  By  the 1911 census, the family had lost their father. They were living with their mother, and  James was  a clerk for an insurance company. They still had a servant.

James Melville was a bit of a traveller. No record has been found as of yet of his arrival in Canada, but in November, 1910, he was travelling from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan  to Spokane Washington, through Eastport, Idaho. His occupation was listed as ‘boilermaker.’  His contact in Saskatchewan was Ashley Cottam, his brother. He probably originally came to Canada with his brother Ashley in 1904. At some point during these years he lived in Kenora, Ontario.

James  joined the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary forces  on September 23, 1914. At that time he listed his occupation as stenographer. He travelled to Valcartier, Quebec for training. Cottam was part of the 11th Battalion.  He sailed from Quebec to England on the SS Royal Edward on October 4th, 1914. In England, he was Acting Quarter Master to the Canadian Pay Office. He received several promotions, from Private to Sergeant, to Quartermaster Sergeant. On one of his pay sheets he  was noted as being employed by the Imperial Bank of Canada, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  James returned to Canada on leave in April of 1915, destination Prince Albert.

James died in a military hospital in Hampstead on March 18, 1916, of an intestinal obstruction. His remains are interred in the Friern Barnet Churchyard, Middlesex, England. He is honoured in Kenora on the Cenotaph, on the Kenora Legion War Memorial, and on a plaque hanging in St Alban’s Pro Cathedral, and in Regina, Saskatchewan on the Honour Roll created to pay tribute to all civil servants who lost their lives in the war.

His brother Algernon also enlisted in the British Army and had a long and illustrious career. In 1938 he returned from the Sudan to live in Lalmberhurst, Kent on Ridge Farm. He was in the South Staffordshire Regiment 9.6. 1938 (L.G.). At some time he was in the Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment. In 1948, he was made Commander of the Order of Trinity (L.G.). He died in Tonbridge, Kent on May 18, 1964. Brother Ashley (Phillip Ashley Joy) also enlisted in the army in Canada. He had arrived in Canada in 1904, and in 1906 was living in Saskatchewan. He joined the army in 1915, and when he arrived in England he got married. He was a paymaster – Army Pay Sergeant. He returned to Canada on the ‘Baltic’ in 1919, and returned to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan with the rank S.Q.M.B. His registration number was 22000. He died in England on December 15th, 1948, leaving his estate to his wife Margaret.

by Penny Beal

Photograph of St Alban’s Pro Cathedral Memorial courtesy of the church.


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