Son of G.H. Cotton Stapleton. Brothers George (4/213A) and Charles (3/4218) served in WW1
Husband of Marion (nee Sinclair)
George Cotton-Stapleton was born in 1889 and during his short working career became a qualified Electrician.
In December 1914 he joined the Engineers section of the NZEF as a Sapper, number 4/213A. After training he was sent to Gallipoli with No.4 Field Company, New Zealand Engineers where he was wounded on 25/8/1915 (GSW wrist).
He later went on to the Egyptian theatre where he was wounded on 12-1-1916 (GSW head) and then on to France where he was again wounded on 24/6/1916 (shrapnel wound, shoulder).
He continued to serve in the European theatre until late in 1917 when he transferring to the British Army and trained as an Officer, receiving a Temporary Commission on 30/4/1918.
On 15th June 1918 he transferred from the 6th Rifle Brigade to the Royal Air Force (RAF) where, in early October 1918, Cotton-Stapleton was posted to the RAF (previously RNAS) station East Fortune, situated 22 miles east of Edinburgh on the coast of Scotland. Here he trained as a Pilot flying Airships on anti-submarine patrols around the Scottish coast as well as escorting convoys. A summary of his training and postings (from his service record) are as follows:
15.6.1918 - Roehampton (an ex-RNAS balloon training station)
22.6.1918 - No.1 School of Aeronautics (Reading; studies and exams, no flying here) and thereafter to the Airship Pilots School at Cranwell
18.9.1918 - appointed to the Flying Branch of the RAF (in other words, he had now graduated as an airship pilot) (as a 2nd Lieutenant - actually noted as '2nd Lieutenant (Dir.) - 'Dir' = Dirigible (aka as Airship])
30.9.1918 - Posted to East Fortune for operational flying
3.3.1919 - granted Royal Aero Club Airship Pilot's Certificate No. 49 (an optional document, not an RAF requirement; only 67 had been granted by end 1919 and no more up until at least September 1925, if ever)
10.10.1919 - Kinross for 'disposal'
12.10.1919 - transferred to Unemployed List, as a 2nd Lieutenant
By this time he had flown airships for a total of 100 hours by day and 10 hours by night
Thereafter George returned to New Zealand where in June 1923, as a 2nd Lieutenant, he helped form the New Zealand Air Force (the NZAF consisted of seventy-two officers, most of whom had served as pilots in the First World War).
In May 1930 he was promoted to the rank of Flight Officer and was posted to the Retired List in July 1930.
COTTON-STAPLETON George :RGO DEATH: 1983/17497, New Plymouth; aged 95 years
NEWSPAPER: DEATH – COTTON Stapleton George: Service No 4/213, Flying Officer, Royal Flying Corps, WWI. Died at Taranaki Base Hospital, New Plymouth on Tuesday, 16 August 1983. Dearly loved husband of Marion (Princes Street, Fitzroy) aged 96 years. No flowers by request. Friends are invited to a service at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Henui Street, Fitzroy, on Thursday, 18 August 1983 at 11am, thence to the Taranaki Crematorium. R C Vosper & Sons Ltd, FDANZ [‘The Daily News’ (New Plymouth), Wednesday, 17 August 1983, p 28a]
OBITUARY: Gallipoli Veteran dies at 95 – Gallipoli veteran George COTTON-STAPLETON died in New Plymouth on Tuesday aged 95. Mr Cotton-Stapleton first saw action at Gallipoli, where he was wounded in the shoulder on 25 April 1915. After recuperating in Egypt, he transferred to the airship section, Royal Flying Corps, England, as a flying officer. His duties there were to pilot an observation balloon seeking German submarines off the Scottish coast. Mr Cotton-Stapleton, who was born in England, farmed at Egmont Village for a number of years before moving to the Waipukurau Hospital Farm. In 1943 he was back in Taranaki to marry Miss Marion SINCLAIR [died 1984 at New Plymouth]. The couple returned to the hospital farm, and after several year’s work Mr Cotton-Stapleton handed it over to his nephew, George. Until his retirement Mr Cotton-Stapleton worked in the hospital’s storeroom. He retired in Waipukurau but moved to New Plymouth some years ago. Mr Cotton-Stapleton is survived by his wife, Marion. The couple had no children. [‘The Daily News’ (New Plymouth), Thursday, 18 August1983, p3]
Listed at national Archives as COTTON-STAPLETON, George - [a.k.a. STAPLETON, George Cotton] - WW1 4/213a - Army. Number 213 assigned by British Section of NZEF; number 4123A assigned when posted to 1st Divisional Field Company AWMM