Sunday, October 27, 2013

Able Seaman Thomas Henry Bramwell 233784

Thomas Henry Bramwell

There was only one result for T H Bramwell in the CWGC database and as it showed that his mother lived on Upper Stanhope St, I am happy that it is the correct man.

Family Information

Thomas Henry Bramwell was born on 21st May 1888 in Liverpool and baptised in St Peter’s Church on 2nd July that year. His parents were Louisa Charlotte Bramwell and Thomas Bramwell, a plumber, of Great Newton Street.

The 1891 census shows that the Bramwell family were living at 6 Great Newton Street and the head of the household was Louisa’s father, John Royle. The complete household was:
John Royle, head, married, 58, Booker on the L&NW Railway, born Manchester
Catherine Royle, wife, aged 50, born Liverpool
Charles Royle, son, married, aged 27, unemployed, born Liverpool
Thomas Bramwell, son in law, married,  23, loader on L&NW railway, born Liverpool
Louisa C Bramwell, wife, married, 22, born Liverpool
Thomas Bramwel, son, aged 2, born Liverpool
John Bramwell, son, aged 10 months, born Liverpool.

Thomas Bramwell attended St Bride's School, Toxteth. This school was opened in 1834 on Upper Stanhope St but by the time Thomas attended it was in Grey St, Toxteth very close to Fletcher St where the Bramwell family were living in the 1901 census:

11 Fletcher Street,
Thomas Bramwell, head, married, 32, Scales porter
Louisa Bramwell, wife, married, 30,
Thomas Bramwell, son, single, 12
Louisa Bramwell, daughter, single, 8
John Bramwell, son, single, 6
Ethel Bramwell, daughter, single, 3
George Bramwell, son, single, 3
Thomas Crebbin,visitor, single, 28, boiler maker
Ellen Royle, visitor, married, 33

Thomas Henry Bramwell joined the Navy when he was 15 (in 1903) so he wasn't enumerated with his family in the 1911 census. For this census Louisa was head of the household at 21 Upper Stanhope St with 8 of her 10 children, her husband wasn't there but she listed herself as married.

Naval Service.

I have a copy of Thomas Henry Bramwell’s record  of service. He engaged  for 12 years C.S. (continuous service) in the Navy which came into effect on his 18th birthday,  21st May 1906. His number was 233784 and port division Portsmouth. He was 5ft 3inches tall with brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion.

His occupation when he signed up was ‘shed boy & general labourer’ and by the time the form was filled out in 1906 he had quite a few distinguishing marks:- scar right eyebrow, heart cross J.B. heart left forearm, anchor cross & star right forearm, star & dot back of right hand, 3 dots back of left hand. 
[in traditional sailor's tattoos the stars are to guide you home, anchors denote the merchant marine and/or crossing the Atlantic, crosses are to ensure you get a christian burial, three dots in a triangle on the hand was the traditional tattoo after your first voyage.]

Thomas H Bramwell’s record of service gives the date of his 18th birthday as the date of his engagement but he actually joined the Navy when he was 15 and the  list the ships etc that he served on, with dates, shows that aged 17 he served as a  “Boy second class” and “Boy first class” on HMS Boscawen (a shore establishment) HMS Hawke, HMS Victory I (Shore establishment) and HMS Good Hope. When he turned 18 he automatically became an “Ordinary Seaman” and was subject to naval discipline as an adult and I will have to check whether this is the point that  the 12 years engagement was reckoned from.

As an Ordinary Seaman (O.S.) Thomas H Bramwell served on :

HMS Good Hope, (Drake-class armoured cruiser) 21/05/1906 – 31/12/1906, character VG.
He was then promoted to Able Seaman (A.B.) and served on the following ships or shore establishments:

HMS Good Hope, (Drake-class armoured cruiser) 01/01/1907 – 15/07/1907, character VG
HMS Vernon (Shore: torpedo school),                      16/07/1907 – 31/03/1908, char V.G
HMS Victory I (shore establishment),                         01/04/1908 – 01/08/1908, char V.G.-V.G.
HMS Argonaut (Diadem-class cruiser),                     02/08/1908 – 17/08/1908, char V.G.-G
HMS Venus (Eclipse-class cruiser),                           18/08/1908 – 04/12/1910, char V.G. –SAT
HMS Excellent (shore: gunnery school),                     05/12/1901 – 06/05/1911, char F-SAT
HMS Victory I(shore establishment),                           07/05/1911 – 15/05/1911, char MOD
HMS Invincible  (Invincible-class battlecruiser),         16/05/1911 – 07/08/1912, char V.G. –
                                                                                    10 DAYS CELLS
HMS Invincible (Invincible-class battlecruiser)         18/08/1912 – 30/10/1912, char FAIR – SAT
                                                                                    30 DAYS DETENTION (ABSENCE)
HMS Victory I(shore establishment),                         27/11/1912 – 27/11/1912
HMS Invincible (Invincible-class battlecruiser)         28/11/1912 – 09/05/1913
                                                                                    14 DAYS CELLS
HMS Invincible (Invincible-class battlecruiser)                      24/05/1913 – 05/11/1913
                                                                                    21 DAYS DETENTION (ABSENCE)
HMS Invincible (Invincible-class battlecruiser)                      26/11/1913 – 23/12/1913
HMS Victory I(shore establishment),                         24/12/1913 – 17/01/1914
 HMS Vindictive (Arrogant-class light cruiser,).                     18/01/1914 – 29/07/1914
HMS Victory I(shore establishment),                         30/07/1914 – 02/08/1914
HMS Invincible (Invincible-class battlecruiser)                   03/08/1914 – 31/05/1916
                                                                                    D.D. [Discharged Deceased]
                                                                                    CLASS FOR CONDUCT: 2nd
N.P. 4060/1916 D.D. 31st May 1916 KILLED IN ACTION

HMS Invincible (source: Wikipedia commons)
We can see from this record that Thomas Henry Bramwell’s war service took place on the HMS Invincible. The H.M.S. Invincible was a battlecruiser of the Royal Navy, the lead ship of her class of three, and the first battlecruiser to be built by any country. After an initial period of near-continual modification she became an active unit of the Battlecruiser Force. Thomas Henry Bramwell was serving on this ship when she participated in the Battle of Heligoland Bight (28th August 1914), the Battle of the Falkland Islands (8th December 1914) and the Battle of Jutland, where she was sunk in action at 6:34pm on 31 May, 1916. The total number of officers and men on board at the time was 1,031. Of these only six survived. Thomas Henry Bramwell was not one of the lucky six.

HMS Invincible being destroyed (source: Wikipedia)


Entry in “UK, Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919”

Name:             Thomas Henry Bramwell
Rank:              AB
Birth Date:       21 May 1888
Birth Place:     Liverpool, Lancashire
Branch of Service:      Royal Navy
Cause of Death:          Killed or died as a direct result of enemy action
Official Number Port Division:            233784. (Po)
Death Date:     31 May 1916
Ship or Unit:    HMS Invincible
Location of Grave:      Not recorded
Name and Address of Cemetery:      Body Not Recovered For Burial
Relatives Notified and Address:         Mother: Louise Bramwell, 21, Upper Stanhope Street, Liverpool

Thomas Henry Bramwell, as well as being commemorated on the St James Memorial, has two entries in the Hall of Remembrance at Liverpool Town Hall.


T. H.


They must both be for the same man as there are no records of a second T Bramwell being killed on the Invincible. This is not unusual in the Hall of Remembrance as family members may have duplicated entries, or confusion about rank may have led to two entries being made.

Local newspapers

On 12th June 1916, an article in the Liverpool Echo contained information about T.H. Bramwell, with a photograph. The article was entitled “More Local Naval Men Who Fell” and gave details of 8 sailors. I have reproduced only the part about Thomas Bramwell.

Thomas Henry Bramwell, seaman-gunner, whose mother resides at 21, Upper Stanhope Street, Liverpool, was on board H.M.S. Invincible. He was educated at St Bride’s School. He joined the Navy at fifteen years of age and had been in the Venus, Good Hope, Boscowan as well as the Invincible where he met his death. He was just finishing his time. He fought in the Heligoland, Falkland Islands and the Lowestoft battles.

Thomas Henry Bramwell has no known grave but his name is inscribed on Panel 12 of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.
Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Copyright CWGC)

1 comment:

Robert Francis said...

Fantastic research Amanda. Thomas Bramwell was my great great uncle and to see a picture of him along with such fine detail as his height was amazing. It's funny how answers your looking for often present more questions...such as the times he went temporarily absent. I wonder what he was doing during these times. Who did the mysterious initials in the love heart belong too?etc. also I'd like to add that I'm sure the brave men who gave their lives would be pleased that you have taken so much time and effort to ensure they're not forgotten. Thanks Amanda you're a legend!!