Bramall, William Peel (1928-1954)
Sherborne School, UK, Book of Remembrance for former pupils who have lost their lives in the service of their country, 1919-1939 and 1946 to date.
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Credit: Sherborne School Archives, Abbey Road, Sherborne, Dorset, UK, DT9 3AP.
Details: William Peel Bramall (1928-1954), born 22 April 1928, son of Reginald Sidney Ernest Bramall (Old Shirburnian) and Alexandra Isabella Bramall (née Cogan), Cottenden, Stonegate, Wadhurst, Sussex.
Attended Newlands Preparatory School, Seaford.
Attended Sherborne School (Westcott House), May 1942-July 1946; 6th form; House Prefect; 1st XV 1945; 2nd XI hockey 1945; 2nd XI 1946; 1st Class Gym; Gym Squad & Gym Colours, 1944, 1945, 1946; PT Instructor; Trebles 1946; Corporal in JTC.
Indian Army Cadetship.
Captain, The Royal Scots.
Accidentally killed in Korea on 4 March 1954 as a result of his tent catching fire in the middle of the night when he was asleep.
Buried at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery, Pusan.
The Shirburnian, Summer 1954:
CAPTAIN W.P. BRAMALL (h, 1942-46).
Bill Bramall came to Sherborne from Newlands Preparatory School. He never found classroom work particularly easy or congenial, but once he saw the practical need for it he was ready to do something about it. His main interests and abilities lay in other directions. He was a versatile athlete, gaining a place in the 1st XV in his last season at full back, a place in the hockey XI, and many successes in the swimming bath, particularly as an all round diver. But his best and strongest line was in the gymnasium, where he won his “Special” and was captain of the School gym squad. He was also no mean boxer. He would have been good at cricket if he could have curbed his impatience to “get on with the game”. Even so, he was a 2nd XI colour, mainly for his wicket-keeping.
It was always his ambition to lead a vigorous outdoor life and he chose the regular army as a career, being selected for an Indian Army Cadetship on leaving school. He transferred to the Royal Scots and was serving in Korea when on March 4th he lost his life most tragically, as a result of his tent catching fire in the middle of the night when he was asleep. That he was doing well and was popular is made fully clear in the tributes paid to him by his senior officers. His Commanding Officer said of him: “Bill was a splendid fellow and a very good officer who was liked and respected by everyone. He has those qualities of leadership and adventure which are so rare today and he always played a full part in everything that went on. His death is a terrible shock and loss to us his friends, the Regiment, and the Army.” His Company Commander wrote: “I had the greatest affection and respect for Bill, who was a true friend as well as a good and loyal subordinate. He was a fine upright character, full of life and humour and so very frank and straightforward. His loss is quite irreparable.”
Those of us who knew his potentialities at school are not surprised to read these tributes.
Letter from R.S. Bramall to R.S. Thompson, 27 March : ‘Bill, I am sorry to say met a terrible death as a result of his tent catching fire. It will never be known exactly what happened but it is assumed that something went wrong with space heater. A sentry gave the alarm at 3.20 am but the fire had too good a hold & no one could get near the tent. They say that Bill must have been asphyxiated very early on. The C.O. says “He cannot have known anything about it.” One can only hope that that is true but I can’t help feeling it is said to lessen the blow. You would like to have the following extracts from Bill’s Company Commander & C.O. “As his Company Commander I had the greatest affection & respect for Bill, who was a true friend as well as a good & loyal subordinate. He was a fine upright character, full of life & humour and so very frank & straight forward. His loss is quite irreparable.”
The C.O. says “Bill was a splendid fellow and a very good officer who was liked & respected by everyone. He has those qualities of leadership and adventure which are so rare today and he always played a full part in everything that went on. His death is a terrible shock & loss to us his friends, the Regiment and the Army. We are having a Memorial Service for him here today and he will be buried with Military Honours in the United Nations Military Cemetery at Pusan.”
As you undoubtedly had more influence for good on Bill than anyone else, you must feel rewarded by these glowing tributes.
Reg expects to get an official report of the tragedy & I do hope that when it comes it will contain some real evidence that Bill did not suffer.’
Letter from George Bramall to R.S. Thompson, 24 June : ‘Thank you very much for sending me a copy of your note for the ‘Shirburnian’ on Bill, which I think is very nice. I don’t think you have left out anything. Since writing to you I have heard a little more about the tragedy. It appears that for the sake of warmth the tents are let three feet into the ground & are lined with wood. The roof is covered with straw. There is only one possible exit & Bill’s body was found on the steps leading out. The straw had immediately caught fire & the whole thing had fallen in on him as he was making his way out. They imagine that his dog, a large animal, which slept in his tent, must have upset the stove. Reg has been most terribly cut up by Bill’s death & I am sure he will very much appreciate your note in the ‘Shirburnian’.