Osborne Arthur Mottram was born in 1893 in Sussex, a second son to Montague Robert Mottram, a master mariner in the Merchant Navy, and Maud Sanxay Mottram, née Barwell. In 1901 the family was living at Worthing in West Sussex, and by which date Maud Mottram had been widowed, with two sons, Francis and Osborne. In the 1911 census, the family had moved to Southport, Lancashire, and Osborne Mottram was described as a student for Holy Orders.
He entered the University of Durham in Michaelmas term 1912 as an Arts Student in Hatfield Hall. After passing his first year examination in Arts, he read Honours Theology and is recorded as passing the General Bible Paper for the B.A. in litteris antiquis (i.e. including Greek and Latin) in the Easter term of 1914. But there is no record thereafter of a degree having been conferred. He rowed in the Hatfield Hall and University boat crews, was a member of the University O.T.C., the Choral Society and Durham Union Society, becoming President of the latter for the Michaelmas Term 1914. However, he was not able to take up his presidency having joined up in the summer of 1914. A photograph survives in Durham University’s archives of Mottram with a group of his friends at an O.T.C. training camp at Stobs near Hawick in the Scottish Borders that summer, just before the war began.
In late 1914, due to his experience won as a cadet of the O.T.C., Mottram was quickly made temporary second lieutenant; a first commission as such in October was cancelled within the month, but he was gazetted a second time in November. In June 1915 he was appointed a temporary captain, and by 1916 was serving at that rank with 7th Battalion, King’s Regiment (Liverpool), part of 165th Infantry Brigade, 55th (West Lancs. Division).
The battalion took part in an attack in the area of Guillemont village on 8/9 August 1916, sustaining very heavy casualties. This attack was one of a series in preparation of a much larger offensive planned by the British Fourth Army that would take place 3-6 September. The battalion’s war diary makes a brief record of Mottram’s death:
Small attack on German Trenches. Captain O. MOTTRAM, 2/Lt E.R. THOMAS
AND 2/Lt MATTHEWS Killed, 2/Lieuts T.A. LYON, R.F. MARKEY, E.S. TAYLOR & Capt W. Paton wounded.
War diary of 7th Battalion, King’s Regiment (Liverpool), 9 August 1917 (Ref: WO 95/2927/1).
Osborne Mottram is buried in Peronne Road Cemetery, Maricourt. His sacrifice is commemorated at Hatfield College on a war memorial plaque, and on the war memorial in the Church of St John the Baptist, Kirdford and Plaistow in West Sussex.