Robert Arthur Bramham

Area: Brotherton
Born: 1876
Died: 22.4.1931
Service number: 29181/ 194817
Regiment / Service: Labour Corps Area Employment Company
Family information: Son of Robert and Matilda Bramham

War Service

Robert Arthur enlisted in the army on 25 September 1916 at the age of 40. On his enrolment form he expressed a preference for the Royal Engineers, being a builder. He seems to have been placed with the Durham Light Infantry and then the Labour Corp - Service no 29181.

In early 1916, a number of infantry battalions composed of men who were medically graded unfit for the fighting were formed for labouring work. They had only 2 officers per battalion. Twelve such battalions existed in June 1916.

The Labour Corps is formed

Formed in January 1917 the Corps grew to some 389,900 men (more than 10% of the total size of the Army) by the Armistice. Of this total, around 175,000 were working in the United Kingdom and the rest in the theatres of war. The Corps was manned by officers and other ranks who had been medically rated below the "A1" condition needed for front line service. Many were returned wounded. Labour Corps units were often deployed for work within range of the enemy guns, sometimes for lengthy periods. In April 1917, a number of infantry battalions were transferred to the Corps. The Labour Corps absorbed the 28 ASC Labour Companies between February and June 1917.

Labour Corps Area Employment Companies were formed in 1917 for salvage work, absorbing the Divisional Salvage Companies. In the crises of March and April 1918 on the Western Front, Labour Corps units were used as emergency infantry. The Corps always suffered from its treatment as something of a second class organisation: for example, the men who died are commemorated under their original regiment, with Labour Corps being secondary. Researching men of the Corps is made extra difficult by this, as is the fact that few records remain of the daily activities and locations of Corps units.

During the re-numbering of army personnel Arthur was given a new 6 figure number – 194817 and transferred to the 351st HS (Home Service) Works Company. This company seems to have been involved in Coastal defences work in the Scarborough/Bridlington area.

Robert was awarded leave on 17 May and 19 December 1918 after which he was discharged but placed on the 'Z List" which meant he could be recalled at a moment's notice should there be a cessation of the truce.

Family Life

A more detailed history of Robert's family is contained in William Bramham's account  as William was his half brother and one of the fatalities from the village.

Robert was born on the 30 June 1876 in Brotherton and was the son of Robert and his first wife Matilda. Like his father he became 'Builder and Monumental Mason'.

On the 2 June 1906 he married Caroline Brady, a resident of Brotherton. Both the father of the bride and groom were deceased at the time. Caroline's father had been a miner and was born in Gloucestershire. In 1881 he was living in Fairburn with his wife Ann (nee Simpkins) but most probably moved to Brotherton before 1883 when Caroline was born.

In the 1901 Census Caroline was living with her mother Ann and was described as a 'Pupil Teacher.'

In 1906 their daughter Bertha Isabella was born and this was followed in 1908 with the birth of Nora Matilda.

Caroline died in January 1909 aged 26.

In 1911 Robert was living on his own in Low Street whilst his daughter Bertha was at her grandmother's house (Matilda Bramham) whilst Nora was boarding with Thomas and Mary Ann Bullock also in Low Street.

After the War little further is known except for the fact that Robert returned to Brotherton and, presumably, began to ply his trade as a mason again.

He died on 22 April 1931 at the age of 54 years and was buried in Brotherton Cemetery.

Robert lived long enough, however, to see his daughters married. On 16 February 1925 Bertha Isabella married Walter Watmough of Brotherton. He was a bus driver and son of William Watmough the grocer in Brotherton.

They had four children (three in Robert's lifetime) - Sydney G (1925), Jean C (1928), Margaret A (1930) and Catherine I (1937) Bertha died in June 1957 aged 51.

Nora Matilda married Howard M. Wright in 1929 and had three children after the death of her father - Howard M. (1933), Dennis L (1935) and David W. (1940). Matilda died in December 1990 aged 82.

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