A schoolboy has discovered one of his ancestors is a World War One hero while doing his history homework.
Jack Barrett, 14, a Year 9 student at Richmond School and Sixth Form College, found that he is related to William Cotter, who won the Victoria Cross.
Jack, from East Cowton, made the discovery by doing his own research and talking to his family.
He said: “I could not believe it when I found out that my great, great, great uncle was awarded the Victoria Cross.
“I was so excited and proud and having found out more about his incredibly heroic actions.
“I am so humbled by his bravery. This has really inspired me to learn more about the history of World War One.”
According to the National Army Museum, William Cotter joined 1st Battalion The Buffs in 1902 and went on to serve in India, Aden, England and Ireland, before being discharged to the Reserve in February 1914.
Following the outbreak of war in August 2014, he rejoined the regiment despite having earlier lost the sight in his right eye.
In March 1916, Cotter was serving with the 6th (Service) Battalion of The Buffs, part of 37th Brigade, 12th Eastern Division, when he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for bravery in action.
His unit was attempting to take a position known as Triangle Crater near the Hohenzollern Redoubt at Loos.
According to the London Gazette of March 28, 1916 the medal was: “For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.
“When his right leg had been blown off at the knee and he had also been wounded in both arms, he made his way unaided for 50 yards to a crater, steadied the men who were holding it, controlled their fire, issued orders, and altered the dispositions of his men to meet a fresh counter-attack by the enemy.
“For two hours he held his position, and only allowed his wounds to be roughly dressed when the attack had quieted down.
“He could not be moved back for 14 hours, and during all this time had a cheery word for all who passed him. There is no doubt that his magnificent courage helped greatly to save a critical situation.”
Cotter lived long enough to know that he had been successfully recommended for the VC.
The VC ribbon was pinned to his chest by Lieutenant-General Sir Hubert Gough, commander of I Corps, while he lay in hospital at Lillers.
His wounds were so severe that he died on March 14, 1916, aged 33.
His Victoria Cross medal is currently displayed in the National Army Museum.
Further information about William Cotter’s life can be found here http://www.vconline.org.uk/william-r-cotter-vc/4586263485
Sophia Mawer, lead teacher for history, said: “It was wonderful to see history come alive for Jack when he found out that his relative had been extraordinarily brave during the First World War.
“The class had been studying the war and from a homework task, they were able to see how the soldiers involved were real people.
“The story of William Cotter is very inspirational and gave all of us a real insight into the dangers and bravery involved.
“It was wonderful that Jack could share it with us and I think it inspired others to look into their own family history too.”