2nd January 1890 - 25th September 1915 (age 25)
12th Bn. The Rifle Brigade
Sowerby School was situated on Front Street and is now a collection of homes but can still be recognised as a former school. William was admitted to the junior school there on 11th May 1897 moving from Thirsk Roman Catholic School. Born in Stockton, he was the second youngest of 8 surviving children. His father Thomas, a tailor, had originated from South Otterington while his mother Ann was from Thirsk. After a time at Stockton, they had returned to live in Long Street, Thirsk.
In 1911, William at the age of 22 was a self employed hairdresser living at 61 Tilery Road, Stockton with his married sister, Edith Chapman and her family. This remained his address up to enlistment with the Rifle Brigade on 6th September 1914, when he was recorded as being 5 ft 5 ins tall and weighing 115 lbs. After a period of training, William went out to France with the 12th Rifle Brigade on 21st July 1915.
The British were under pressure after disappointments at Neuve Chappelle and Aubers Ridge and the failure of the Gallipoli operation, which had been aimed at finding Germany's weakness via Turkey. The Germans had launched a massive offensive on the Eastern Front, and the Russians had lost 750,000 men. The French were planning a further attack in Champagne. The British were compelled to try another attack, this time it was at Loos on 25th September. Some of the recently arrived New Army regiments were to be used and this included the 12th Rifle Brigade. They were not however, to be involved in the main attack, their role being a diversionary one further north and aimed at drawing enemy resources away from Loos.
The Brigade's war diary records that on 25th September a large mine was exploded under the enemy salient and this was followed by the attack which sadly failed with 43 other ranks killed, 213 wounded and 76 missing (all believed killed). William's grave can be found at Aubers Ridge Military Cemetery, plot 1V.A.1.
It appears that his parents were living at Bribery Terrace, Sowerby when they received the news.
William Bramley's headstone at Aubers Ridge
The information on this page was compiled by Steve Billings.
Information about William Edward Bramley on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Information about William Edward Bramley on the War Graves Photographic Project website
Part of the St Oswald's Church website