Robert Warkman

Roberts’s father, George was innkeeper of the Three Tuns in Brandon Village where Robert worked as a barman.  The family came from Northumberland but I can find nothing about Robert before he came to Brandon or about his family after the War.    Robert was born on 18th December 1888.  He enlisted as an Able Seaman with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserves on 24th August 1915. Robert joined Drake Battalion of the British Expeditionary Force in September 1916.  He was killed in action on 4th February 1917.

I can find no record of the Warkman family before their time at the Three Tuns.  What happened to them, did they stay at The Three Tuns?

Arthur Guyll

George Arthur Guyll was born in 1889, the fifth of ten children to Robert and Elizabeth.  He married Lily Taylor in 1913 and they lived at 53 Brandon Village with their young sons Ernest and Albert.  Arthur enlisted in Durham Light Infantry aged 26 on 9th December 1915.  In September 1916, barely six weeks after being posted, he received a gunshot wound to the leg but recovered and returned to duty.

He was posted missing on 27th May 1918 but died at Rastatt prisoner of war camp on 12th June.  No cause of death is given but conditions in the camps in Germany were particularly brutal so it’s possible Arthur died of starvation.

Lily received a widows pension of 25s5d (£41.41) per week and accepted a posthumous medal in recognition of Arthur’s “skill with the rifle”.

Are you related to Arthur or descended from his sons Ernest and Albert?   Guyll is an unusual name, where does it come from?

Horace Schofield

Horace was a bricklayer living at 46 Brandon Village with his wife Mary and children Alfred aged 11, Irene 9 and Selby 3.  Horace was born in West Yorkshire and Mary in Brandon Village but the couple had spent some time in London where Alfred was born.  Horace was 32 when he enlisted in the Yorkshire Regiment on 3rd September 1914; his is described as having blue eyes, brown hair and a ruddy complexion.  He was discharged medically unfit for duty due to varicose veins after only 73 days.  Horace appears on the war memorial although he didn’t die till 1920.

Are you one of the Schofields who still live in the area?

John Thomas Smith

A John Smith appears on the war memorial and a John Thomas Smith is listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as buried in Brandon Cemetery.

I have assumed they are one in the same.

Have I got the right John Smith?

John was the son of Margaret Jane and John Smith.  By 22 he is a self-employed dealer in wines and spirits, an occupation he keeps until he enlists as a Gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery on 11th December 1915 aged 37.  He is single and living at 21 Browney Lane with his half-sister Margaret Elizabeth Gray who is an Assistant Schoolmistress.  John is mobilised in August 1916.  A year later Gunner J T Smith 113787 of the Royal Garrison Artillery appears in the London Gazette of 29th August 1917 having been awarded the Military Medal.  Perhaps it was wounds sustained during his act of conspicuous bravery that lead to his death at the 2/1st Southern General Hospital, Birmingham on 31st October 1917, 10 days after being admitted.

At this point relations between the mourning family appear to sour.

As well as Margaret Gray, John has another half-sister: Jane Ann Thompson who lives with her family at 1 West View, Ushaw Moor.  Correspondence with the army shows that both sisters claimed Johns Military Medal.

Do you know how John won his Military Medal?

Margaret pressed her case with the help of Fr O Mordaunt Burrows, assistant priest at St.John’s, Meadowfield while Mrs Thompson requested the medal be sent to her immediately.  Finally a document signed by the Director of Personal Services at the Royal Garrison Artillery Records Office in Dover decides “I am to state that action should be taken under paragraph 4 of Army Order 363 of 1916, as regards the Military Medal”.  I can find no record of this Order but it appears the medal was sent to Margaret Gray who was identified as Johns next of kin from the outset.

Personal possessions were also returned to Margaret. They were a cap badge, private correspondence, three writing pads of stationery, five picture postcards, two photos, two part pads, stamps, shaving stick, strop and razor, tooth brush and soap tin, two packets of cigarettes, a part packet of tobacco and a tin of biscuits.

Raymond Scott

Raymond was born to Thomas and Jane in 1898 in Brancepeth Village; they live next door to the Rodgers family whose son Albert also appears here.  Thomas is a joiner on the Boyne estate.  On 31st March, census day 1901, Raymond is only three years old and a patient at Houghall Isolation Hospital in Durham.  Laurie Moran describes a measles epidemic reaching Brandon in March 1901 causing five deaths and that school rolls were significantly reduced.  It’s possible Raymonds elder sister Eva, who was of school age, bought measles to the house.   Measles epidemics occurred frequently in the colliery villages.  In 1915 Brandon, Browney and St.Patrick’s schools were all closed as a result of measles and whooping cough; in March alone 51 died.

Houghall Hospital wasn’t demolished till 1956, do you remember it?

I have found very little about Raymonds military career other than he was a private in the 5th Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment and was killed in action on 8th December 1917.  His Medal Index Card exists but sadly his service record does not.  Raymond was only 19 when he died.