Private James Walter Brampton, 4th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, died on 2nd September 1918, aged 26. He was married with one daughter, Phyllis Maud (1915-1997).
James was born in Birmingham in 1890 and is shown on the 1891 census as living in Bordesley with his parents, Thomas (a bricklayer’s labourer) and Alice (née Nutt) who had married at St Jude’s, Birmingham in June 1881. The couple had seven children (six sons, one daughter) of whom three died as infants – Mary Alice (1886-1889), Christopher (born and died 1888) and Samuel (born and died 1893). It’s also possible that eldest son, Thomas (born 1882) had died young as well, as he is not shown with the family on any census returns.
Alice herself died in spring 1901, aged 40. We haven’t been able to find her husband, Thomas, on the 1901 census, nor have we found his death. However, the three children – William (a soldier, aged 18), James (aged 11) and four-year-old Philip Leslie, were living in Great Francis Street with their uncle and aunt, James and Ada Nott. Philip Leslie Brampton (1897-1986) also seems to have served in the First World War as a Private with the Wiltshire Regiment.
In December 1901, the two youngest children, James and Philip, were admitted to Marston Green Cottage Homes. The admission register at Birmingham Archives notes that their father, James [sic], was in the asylum, and their brother, William, was a soldier. It’s likely that the reference to the boys’ father as James is an error, and it refers to their uncle, James Nott. Their widowed aunt, Ada, appears to have remarried in 1902.
James Brampton remained in the Cottage Homes until 8th May 1907 and went to work for Mr Biddle of 117 Horace Street, Smethwick. The 1911 census lists James’s occupation as a painter working for a builder, and shows him living in Aston with his aunt, Ada, and her second husband, Thomas Percy Horton.
James married Maud Emma Allibone on 21st August 1913 at Ashted Church, Birmingham. They set up home in Stour Street, Ladywood, which was the address James gave when he joined the Army on 27th October 1915. He was posted to France on 14th March 1916, returning to England on 21st March 1917 before going back to France on 18th July 1917 and serving there until 20 September 1917. He remained in England until 2nd April 1918, returning to France for the third and final time and serving there until his death.
His service records includes a letter from his wife, Maud, asking for news of her husband, as she had heard from a comrade that he had been killed on 2nd September, and as she hadn’t heard from him for several weeks, she was very anxious. She gives his details as 9 Platoon, C Company, 4th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Maud was awarded a pension of 20/5 per week for herself and one child with effect from 7th April 1919.
James Brampton has no known grave and is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois memorial. We believe that he is the W. Brampton listed on the Marston Green Cottage Homes war memorial, but we don’t know if the incorrect initial is confusion with his brother, William (who doesn’t appear to have lived in the Homes) or an error involving James’s middle name of Walter (although Army records refer to him just as James Brampton).
If you have any further information, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977
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