Bromwich, John George. Died 29th Jul 1916

John George Bromwich was born in late 1887, in New Bilton, Rugby, Warwickshire. His father, Charles Dunkley Bromwich, a gas fitter, was born in about 1862 in Fenny Stratford, Buckinghamshire, but by 1881 was a widower lodging together with his son, John, with the Burdett family at 9 Victoria Street, New Bilton. His wife, John’s mother, had died in late 1890, when John was three years old. In 1901, they were still lodging with the Burdetts, but now at 21 Victoria Street, quite possibly the same house, renumbered in the Post Office’s street reordering. He was 13 and his elder brother, Frederick was working as a plumber, presumably with his gas fitter father.

John married to Eva Emily Walker of 17 Union Street, Rugby, when he was 21 and she was 18, on 8 November 1908. Their son, Wilfred George Bromwich, was born on 27 January 1910.

In 1911, John was aged 23 and living with his wife and son at 11 Union Street, Rugby. He was a ‘turncock’ for the Urban Council. In the 1911 census, Eva appears twice: at her married home as Eva Bromwich; and at her parents’ home, 21 Union Street, as Eva Walker!   Whilst she had been 18 when she married in late 1908, she was now apparently aged 19 in early 1911!

John joined the 16th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a Private, No.14531. He joined up in August 1915 as noted in the Rugby Advertiser of 28 August 1915.

As with the 14th and 15th Battalions, the 16th (Service)(3rd Birmingham) Battalion was raised in September 1914 by the Lord Mayor and a local committee, from men volunteering in Birmingham. These units were additionally entitled 1st, 2nd and 3rd City of Birmingham Battalions, and were known as The Birmingham Pals.

The 16th Battalion went to Malvern in March 1915; then to Wensleydale; and after training, on 26 June 1915 they came under command of 95th Brigade, 32nd Division, and went to Codford, Salisbury Plain on August 1915.

John’s Medal Card provides little information except his regiment, rank and number and his entitlement to the Victory and British War Medals.

The Brigade, and it is assumed John Bromwich, landed at Boulogne on 21 November 1915, and on 26 [or 28] December 1915, transferred to 15th Brigade, 5th Division. On 14 January 1916 they transferred to 13th Brigade[1] still with 5th Division. In March 1916, 5th Division took over a section of front line between St Laurent Blangy, just east of Arras and the southern edge of Vimy Ridge, just north. In July 1916 they moved some 50 miles south to reinforce the Somme and were in action in the ‘Subsidiary attacks’ at High Wood, some four miles east of Albert, from 20-25 July 1916.[2]

The limited information available can be used to deduce something of John’s final days. The dates and locations suggest that he was wounded during the Battle for High Wood between 20 and 25 July. He was obviously badly wounded, but was stable enough to be evacuated, probably by hospital train, to a base hospital at Rouen, some 100 miles behind the front line.

During the First World War, Commonwealth camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen. A base supply depot and the 3rd Echelon of General Headquarters were also established in the city. Almost all of the hospitals at Rouen remained there for practically the whole of the war. They included eight general, five stationary, one British Red Cross, one labour hospital, and No.2 Convalescent Depot. The great majority of the dead from these hospitals were taken to the city cemetery of St. Sever.[3]

He ‘died of wounds’ on 29 July 1916 and was buried in Grave Reference: B. 37. 7. at the St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen. This was in the original cemetery, by September 1916, some time after John’s death, it was necessary to begin an extension. St. Sever Cemetery now contains 3,082 Commonwealth burials of the First World War; the Extension contains a further 8,348 Commonwealth burials.

John George Bromwich does not appear to be closely related to Frederick Bromwich who is also commemorated on the War Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

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This article on John George Bromwich was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, May 2015.

[1]       There seems to be some inconsistency in the various accounts, between the 15th and 13th Brigade;

[2]       16th Batt. RWR info: http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com; http://battlefields1418.50megs.com/regiment012.htm; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_battle_for_the_Battle_of_the_Somme.

[3]       http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/16900/ST.%20SEVER%20CEMETERY,%20ROUEN.

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