POTTER, Ernest William [D.C.M.]

No.2011, Company Sergeant Major, Ernest William POTTER D.C.M.
Aged 28

12th Battalion, Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own)
Killed in Action on Sunday, 24th March 1918

Distinguished Conduct Medal

Ernest William Potter was born in Cowlinge (Risbridge Q1-1890 4A:689), son of Arthur James and Agnes POTTER(née COE).

1891 census...Aged 1, he was at Mill Road, Cowlinge with his father Arthur POTTER [24] farm labourer born Cowlinge and his mother Agnes [24] born Stradishall.

1901 census...Aged 11, he was at Hobbles Green, Cowlinge with his parents; brother George [8] and sisters Ada [6], Laura [4] and Rose [1]. All except his mother were born in Cowlinge.

1911 census... Aged 21 he was in the Army in Egypt.

The living relatives form completed by his father on 21st April 1919 gave both parents living at Mill Road, Cowlinge, with his brother Arthur [15] and sister Laura [22]. Brother George [26] was in Kirtling, sister Ada [24] at Park Farm, Horseheath, Rose [19] at Hall Farm, Kirtling and Ethel [18] at Place Farm, Kirtling.

He enlisted in Bury St Edmunds on 12th March 1907 for 7 years in colours, 5 on Reserve, giving his age as 18 years 1 month, born Cowlinge, a labourer. A Congregationalist, he was 5 feet 8.5 inches (174 cm) tall, weighed 137 lbs (62.3 kg), chest 33.5" to 36.5" (85.1 to 92.7 cm), blue eyes,light brown hair. Next of kin, father Arthur POTTER.
He joined the Rifle Brigade at Winchester on 16th March 1907 - 3rd Battalion 26th July 1907 - 4th Battalion 19th February 1908 - 6th Battn 14th Aug 1915.
12th battalion 3rd Nov 1915 - Acting Cpl unpaid 21 Dec 1915 - paid 18 January 1916 - Corporal 22 Feb 1916, Acting Sgt 11th April 1916, Sergeant 8th June 1916
Warrant Officer Class 2 C.S.M. 1 Jan 1918.
He served :- Home 11-3-1907 to 18-2-1908, Malta 19-2-1908 to 21-1-1909, Egypt 22-1-1909 to 4-2-1913, India 5-2-1913 to 18-11-1914
Home 19-11-1914 to 19-12-1914, BEF 20-12-1914 to 13-5-1915. Gun shot wound in buttocks on 11-5-1915 and home from 14-5-1915 to 2-11-1915, then back to BEF on 3rd November 1915 until his death on 24th March 1918.

Citation for the Distinguished Conduct Medal..London Gazette 14th November 1916:-
2011 L/Sjt. E.W.Potter, Rif.Brig...For conspicuous gallantry in action. He led a patrol to intercept parties of the enemy with great courage and ability. Later he rescued several wounded men under very heavy fire.

The German Spring Offensive (The Kaiserschlacht) started on the 21st March 1918 and the intention was to force a gap between the British and French Armies. After years of stale mate the war suddenly became mobile and the German overran the Allies in most places before their chain of supply became overstretched and the Allies managed to get together sufficient men to stop them. The Germans however had inflicted very heavy casualties and gained a great deal of territory, reaching the outskirts of Amiens.

The 12th battalion, Rifle Brigade were at OFFOY (NW of Ham). War Diary:- The enemy made several attempts to cross the bridge at OFFOY during the early morning but was driven back by heavy rifle and machine gun fire from our line and 12 KRRC on our right.
Our flanks had retired in the afternoon but it was not until 7:15 pm when our position was found to be most dangerous, that the Battalion was ordered to withdraw EQUIQUERY and take up a position as follows:- 2 Coys along the CANAL BANK on right of VOYENNES - LANGUEVOISIN road and 2 Coys on left of road in front of railway. Battalion HQ was established behind railway embankment. This withdrawal was carried out with very few casualties to our battalion. The battalion entrenched during the night without interruption by the enemy.

CWGC have the number killed on the 24th as 11 from the the 12th Rifle Brigade.

photo: Roy Beardsworth

Ernest Potter D.C.M. is commemorated on the Pozières memorial, panels 81 to 84

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details