Rank: Gunner
Number: 8453
Unit: 155th Heavy Battery ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY
Date of Death: 2 November 1916
Age: 26
Cemetery: Combles Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France

In the late summer of 1885, William Bramwell and Ann Burrows married at St Elizabeth’s Church, Reddish. They would have four children. James was their third child and their only son. When the census was taken in 1901, the family was living at 51 Manchester Street (and later at 20 Arthur Street). William was working minding one of the “mule” machines at a cotton mill. This was probably the local mill of Thomas Houldsworth Ltd and his son would later work there as a piecer.

Jim enlisted into the army on 16 October 1915 and was assigned to the newly formed 155th Battery. The units of the Royal Garrison Artillery fired the heaviest weapons in the Army’s arsenal and they were used to batter enemy defences. The guns could fire a 5 inch calibre, 60 pound shell over a distance of 11 kilometres to devastating effect. However, because of the gun’s size, they were not very mobile and their location would be sort out by the enemy’s own heavy artillery in the hope of destroying the guns.

The Battery’s War Diary, held at the National Archives, holds no details for the day James was killed, noting only that they were at Fregicourt, in the French sector of the Somme battlefield. Reporting his death, the local newspaper stated that he had been killed when an enemy shell struck the dug-out in which he was sheltering. James will have been originally buried at Fregicourt but after the War the four bodies buried there were moved to a larger “concentration “cemetery which is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. However, the records of the four men are believed to have been lost and it was no longer possible to identify who was who. James and the three other soldiers are now buried at Combles but their graves are now marked only as “Known unto God”. They are, however, commemorated by a special memorial within the Cemetery.

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