'Probably the toughest, most indestructible mean old bastard I’d ever met' - tributes to ‘wonderful’ Sheffield cadet commander who served with Special Forces

An inspirational Sheffield cadet commander who served with the Special Forces has died aged 92, after a life spent 'with his hand fully on the throttle'.

Sunday, 17th February 2019, 11:22 am
Updated Sunday, 17th February 2019, 11:27 am
John Cotterill (pic: Royal Marines Association)

John 'Plum' Cotterill had an 'impeccable service' with the Royal Marines and the Special Boat Service (SBS), which is the naval branch of the elite Special Forces unit.

He went on to volunteer as detachment commander of the Sheffield Marine Cadets throughout the 70s and 80s, leaving a lasting impression on the many youths he mentored.

John Cotterill (pic: Royal Marines Association)

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His family described him as a 'wonderful' father, grandfather and great grandfather, who they said would be 'sorely missed'.

One of the many cadets John took under his wing called him 'probably the toughest, most indestructible mean old bastard I’d ever met' - a description intended as the highest compliment.

John enlisted in 1943 and served for 29 years, first with the Marines and then, from 1960, with the SBS.

His time with the Special Forces ranged from investigating 'suspicious objects' in the Suez Canal and discretely photographing Soviet shipping in the Dardanelles to riding a giant sea turtle off Aden while supporting the Amphibious Warfare Squadron.

A former cadet of John's recalled first meeting him at the cadets' Loxley House HQ as a teenager in 1991.

"From that day forward, I struck a relationship with the Cadets, the Royal Marines and John that will never leave me, as I romp into my 20th year in the Marines as Colours 'Smudge',” he said.

"In this time, I made the decision that JC was probably the toughest, most indestructible mean old bastard I’d ever met, which is a statement that stands today....

"I could spin many, many stories about JC as can all of those who have ever had the privilege of him in their lives.

"He lived with his hand fully on the throttle. He is probably the most prominent mentor of my youth and what an absolute legend to have as a mentor.

"We were so lucky to have had John effing and blinding at us every Monday and Thursday evening and most weekends....

"None of us would be shocked at all if JC was to live until 110 years old. We are all going to miss him terribly. He could not have lived life any fuller than he did and now deserves a well-earned rest. Colours! We’ll see you up there.”

John's funeral will take place on Monday, February 25 at St Batholomews Church in Maltby, followed by a wake at The Maltby Progressive Club.