William J Branchflower 1889-1947
RM Pensioner Band 1940-1942
James Branchflower was born in Taunton Somerset on Monday 25th November
1889 and baptised a month later. He was the son of Mary and Frederick..
who was a soldier in 1890’s. William their third child after daughters
Lily and Agnes.
Branchflower was posted to HMS Bulwark.. his first of many ships in
May 1907. The battleship visited Trondheim in Norway, he was also onboard
during the fleet review conducted by King Edward VII at Cowes in August
1907. After participating in the fleet manoeuvres earlier in October,
Bulwark ran aground twice near Lemon Light in the North Sea while trying
to avoid Dutch fishing ships but was able to get herself free both times.
Her bottom was slightly damaged during the incidents and she entered
dry dock at Chatham in October for repairs and a lengthy refit that
lasted until March. In August 1908, the Bulwark was decommissioned.
August 1914, William was sent to serve with the band onboard HMS Exmouth
and for the greater part of the First World War. She was a Duncan-class
pre-dreadnought battleship, built to counter a group of fast Russian
battleships, Exmouth and her sister ships were capable of steaming at
nineteen knots, making them the fastest battleships in the world. Exmouth
participated in the Northern Patrol and was then moved to the newly
reformed 6th Squadron in late 1914, where she bombarded the German-occupied
port at Zeebrugge. In mid-1915, the ship was transferred to the Dardanelles
campaign, where she supported operations ashore. She was thereafter
moved to Greece and later to the East Indies Station in March 1917.
She performed convoy escort duties in the Indian Ocean, before returning
to Devonport in August 1917.
War was over and normal life restored, 1921 saw the birth of couple’s
second daughter Greta Sylvia. On 7th April 1922, William received the
Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, the trio of war medals.. firstly, he was awarded
the ‘1914-15 Star’.. the campaign medal of the British Empire,
awarded to officers and men of British and Imperial forces who served
in any theatre of the First World War against the Central European Powers.
He also collected his British War and Victory Medals. Williams time
onboard HMS Revenge came to an end in June 1922. He then returned to
the training ship HMS Impregnable between June 1922 and October 1923,
where he was awarded his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
September 1926, William was posted to the band of HMS Renown. On 6th
January 1927, William was amongst the 37 strong band from Eastney that
embarked on HMS Renown for a tour of Australia and New Zealand accompanying
the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth
the Queen Mother). The Renown was fitted out to accommodate the Duke,
the Duchess and their entourage, they travelled across the Atlantic,
through the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean, via Tahiti, Fiji and
New Zealand. The ship arrived in Sydney on 26th March, boats came out
to welcome the battlecruiser and over one million greeted the royal
September 1927, William joined the RM Band HMS Excellent, shortly afterwards
the couple’s fourth and final child Gloria June was born in 1928.
He remained at Whale Island until June 1931, when.. following a very
eventful career that spanned twenty-seven years, Musician William J
Branchflower was discharged from the Royal Marine Band on 29th July
All Home shore establishments were supplied with Pensioner Bands during the 1940’s, as a military band was considered a necessity for training purposes. William.. following an absence of nearly nine years was one of those pensioners who were kitted out and issued with their instruments. He gave service between April 1940 and January 1941 at HMS Osprey, an anti-submarine training establishment established at Portland. From there William served as a pensioner at HMS Europa, which was the name of the Central Depot for the Royal Naval Patrol Service in Lowestoft from early part of the Second World War. William continued in the role until 26th October 1942, when at the age of 52, he was declared physically unfit for service.
J Branchflower sadly passed away on 27th November 1947 aged just 59.
died about February 1977 aged 91, she is buried with William.
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