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Charles Orpheus Bramham

Date of birth: 1920
Date of death: 26.3.1943
Area: Brotherton
Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Family information: Husband of Eva Mary Bramham of Stanley
Rank: Pilot Officer
Service number: 130450

War Service

Not much is known about Charles’ service in the RAF during the early years of the war. He was obviously a fit and intelligent man to be identified as officer material and duly completed his training as a pilot – service number 130450 - eventually to be stationed at RAF Breighton.
Located six miles north-east of Selby between Breighton village and the B1228 from Howden to York, work on this bomber station started late in 1940 and took just over a year to complete. It became the base for No. 460 squadron which had been formed at RAF Molesworth on 15 November 1941 from C flight of No. 458 squadron.
Part of No. 8 Group the squadron moved to RAF Breighton and No. 1 Group in January 1942 shortly after completion. In 1942, No. 460 squadron was the only Australian squadron in No. 1 Group. It was a heavy bomber unit which flew Wellington IV aircraft when it began its operations on 12 March 1942.
During August 1942, the squadron converted to Halifaxes but these were not used operationally and Lancasters began to arrive in October 1942. For the rest of the war the squadron flew these aircraft as part of the strategic bombing offensive with 5700 sorties being logged.
Charles was one of a few non Australians in the squadron. On the 26th March 1943 he was Pilot Officer on Lancaster Bomber – serial number ED354 flying on what was his first operational mission over Duisberg, Germany. Duisburg was a major logistical centre in the Ruhr Area and location of chemical, steel and iron industries
The aircraft was shot down and all the crew were killed. Charles’ death is commemorated at the Runnymede Memorial.
The Air Forces Memorial, or Runnymede Memorial, in Englefield Green, near Egham, Surrey, England is a memorial dedicated to some 20,456 men and women from air forces of the British Empire who were lost in air and other operations during World War II. Those recorded have no known grave anywhere in the world, and many were lost without trace. The name of each of these airmen and airwomen is engraved into the stone walls of the memorial, according to country and squadron.

Family Life

Although I am told that Charles’ family are linked to the Bramhams that have been in in Brotherton for over 200 hundred years I have not yet ascertained the connection.
The first positive location of Charles ancestors is the marriage of Charles’ great grandparents John Bramham and Anniss Tunningley registered in Pontefract in 1849.
In the 1861 census John (born 1821 in Knottingley) and Anniss (born 1829, Wistow) were in Sutton. They had 5 children all born there - Jane Elizabeth (1851), James (1852), Joseph (1856), Mary Ann (1857) and John William (1859). James was a ‘farmer’ and would therefore have been a tenant of the Ramsden family who owned all the land in that area.
By 1881 Joseph had married Mary - and they were also living in Sutton with 2 year old son Arthur. Joseph was employed as a “Blacksmith” and had been born in Sutton about 1856 whilst Mary was born in West Heslerton in 1843.
In 1891 the family were still in Sutton but had expanded to include Herbert (1882), Emily (1884), and Charles (1886). Very close by were Joseph’s parents, 69 year old John (still a ‘farmer’) and Anniss.
By 1911 Joseph and Mary were still in Sutton and Herbert, then aged 29 was still a bachelor and living with them. He was employed as a ‘gardener’.
Later that year on October 17th 1911 Herbert married Frances Ann Robinson in St. Edwards Church. The bride’s father was James Robinson, a ‘farmer’.
Frances, along with 4 siblings, was born in Campsall (1883) where her father was a ‘Farmer’ and ‘Farrier’. James, however, had been born in Hillam and his wife Sarah in Lumby but he had farmed in Campsall since at least 1881. In the census of that year he was described as a ‘grocer, farmer of 130 acres’.
Prior to that in both 1861 and 1871 he had been resident in Hillam with his parents James (born 1813 in Hillam) and Mary (1819 in Monk Fryston). James was also a ‘farmer of 37 acres’.
In 1901 James’ widowed mother Mary was living with them as was Sarah’s brother John Herbert and a ‘Domestic Servant’ called Ann Bainborrow. There were 6 children as shown on the family tree including Frances Ann who was working in a post office at the time. The eldest two were born in Lumby thus dating the move to Campsall to between 1879 and 1881. The rest were all born in Campsall.
By 1911 the Robinsons had uprooted and moved to Brotherton where James had taken on the tenancy of the historic Manor Farm. It is unclear as to how long the family stayed at Manor Farm as at the time of the Byram Estate sale in 1922 it was listed as being tenanted by Woodalls. However, when Frances Ann died in 1941 the entry in the parish record shows she was resident at Manor Farm. Herbert died in 1958 and is also buried in Brotherton but was said to be living at Burton Salmon.
As far as can be ascertained, Herbert and Francis had 5 children - John Herbert Petch (1912), Frances Mary (1914), Irene (1916), James H (1918) and Charles Orpheus (1920). Irene was ‘Rene’ Bramham who in later life lived in the house attached to the old school (now De Lacy Motor Club) whilst it was used as a church hall. John H.P. lived down Byram Park Road and was a builder who turned travelling grocer. His large van was a regular sight in and around the village. It seems that a local ‘wag’ once suggested that the H.P, stood for ‘Hire Purchase’ - either because this was the method which he apparently utilised to acquire much of his building supplies or because he extended credit to some of his customers. Frances became a teacher but died of Typhoid in 1935. The brass processional cross used at almost every service was presented in 1937 by a working party in memory of her.
Frances Ann died in 1941 and was buried in Brotherton.
Charles married Eva Mary Walker in early 1942 at Pontefract. They do not seem to have had any children. It is thought that Eva was born in the Wakefield area in 1916 and was living in Stanley at the time Charles was killed.

Runnymede Memorial Runnymede Memorial

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