Private 29905 William Bramwell Henn

Henn William Bramwell 96 415x600Henn William 96 417x600
Photograph courtesy of Peter Forbes.

Died of Wounds on Friday, 26th April 1918, age 32.
Buried in Grave C. 18. at Ghent City Cemetery, Gent, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

2nd Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 100th Brigade of 33rd Division.

Son of William B. and Agnes Henn, of 56, Wellington Rd., Dudley.
Born: Dudley, Enlisted: Worcester, Resident: Dudley.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and Dudley Clock Tower memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2959650/

Genealogical Data

Birth of William Bramwell Henn registered December quarter 1885 at Dudley.

1901 Census
257 Castle Street, Dudley, Worcs.
William Bramwell Henn (41, Watchmaker, born Darlaston), his wife Agnes (43, born New York, USA), and their 7 children: Mary (17, Milliner, born Dudley), Agnes (16, born Dudley), William (15, born Dudley), Eva Gertrude (14, Watchmaker, born Dudley), Karl (13, born Dudley), Edith (9, born Dudley), and Florence (4, born Dudley).

1911 Census
27 Stourbridge Road, Dudley, Worcs.
William Bramwell Henn (51, Watchmaker - repairing, born Darlaston), his wife Agnes (53, born New York, USA), and 6 of their 7 surviving children of 12: Agnes (26, Typist, born Dudley), William (25, Watchmaker - repairing, born Dudley), Eva Gertrude (24, At home, born Dudley), Karl (23, Clerk, born Dudley), Edith (19, Typist, born Dudley), and Florence (14, School, born Dudley).

Personal Data

William Henn was born and bred in Dudley, one of 12 children of William and Agnes Henn, 7 of whom survived infancy. He had a jeweller's shop in Great Bridge, hence his presence on the Tipton Memorial even though he was neither born nor resident in Tipton.

The Henn family were associated with Methodism in Tipton and Dudley. William's grandfather Silas Henn had founded the Refuge Chapel in Waterloo Street, Tipton after the Methodist Church expelled the "Wesleyan Reform Group", but in later years re-joined the Methodist Church. Silas was a Doctor of Divinity and author of numerous theological books. The Henns have also long been associated with the Jewellery and Watchmaking trade from the time Silas opened the first Henn Watchmaker's shop in Owen Street Tipton in about 1850. William opened his own jeweller's shop in Great Bridge before joining the Army. Branches of Henn's Jewellers still exist in the Black Country area, still run by the Henn family.

The Henn family had their share of tragedy. In 1894 John Willies Henn was shot and killed on the doorstep of his own house, probably an accidental shot by poachers. Ernest George Henn was returning from Canada to England aboard the Lucitania in May 1915, when it was sunk by torpedoes fired from the German U-boat U-20, off the south west of Ireland, about 12 miles from the Cork coast.

After William's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £12/0/5d (12 pound and 5 pence); this was paid to his father, William B., in May 1919 and July 1920. His War Gratuity was £8/10/0d (8 pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to his father in November 1919. William had enlisted in February 1916.

National Probate Calendar, 1919
Henn WIlliam Bramwell of 56 Wellington Road, Dudley, Worcestershire, died 26 April 1918 in Belgium. Administration London 27 May to William Bramwell Henn, Jeweller. Effects £398/13/9d (398 pounds, 13 shillings and 9 pence).

Action resulting in his death

The German Spring Offensive began on the 21st March 1918, the focus was initially in the area of the 1916 Somme battlefield. During the next 2 weeks, the Allied line was forced to fall back significantly, but had not broken. On 12th April, the German focus switched towards Flanders and they attacked from Messines Ridge towards Neuve Eglise held by the 2nd Worcesters. The defence and ultimate withdrawal from Neuve Eglise brought great credit to the 2nd Worcesters, with Captain J.J. Crowe winning the Victoria Cross for his brave leadership in the withdrawal.

On 13th April, from the 2nd Worcesters defence line to the east of Neuve Eglise, they could see the Germans advancing from Messines Ridge to the east. Despite desperate defence by the 2nd Worcesters, the Germans could be slowed but not halted. Battalion HQ was at the 'Mairie' (Town Hall) in Neuve Eglise, by 6pm 2 platoons of 'B' Company joined the HQ staff, and the Mairie was organised for defence. This allowed others to withdraw further to the west.

The enemy kept up heavy fire overnight, and were almost surrounding the Mairie at dawn on 14th April. Rather than surrender, at 11.00am Captain Crowe led a small group of 2nd Worcesters in a break-out to the west. His small group out-flanked a machine-gun crew on a hill overlooking the Mairie, and disposed of them. Those men in the Mairie still capable of escape followed this route, and made their way back towards 'Hill 70' near Dranoutre. For this action, Captain Crowe was awarded the Victoria Cross.

However on the 15th April, the Germans captured Bailleul and were threatening to overwhelm the 49th Division. The 2nd Worcesters were called to cover their retreat, after which the 2nd Worcesters were again on the front line. Enemy fire was heavy and the 2nd Worcesters again took casualties, and it was 18th April before the exhausted remnants of the 2nd Worcesters were withdrawn into reserve.

It was reported in the Dudley Herald that William had been shot in the knee on 15th April. He insisted that his comrades did not attempt to carry him, as this would impede their own retreat. It was also reported that he had lain on the battlefield for 3 days before being taken Prisoner of War by the Germans. Given this length of time, gangrene would have been a distinct possibility. William died some 10 days later as a Prisoner of War, in Ghent. He is buried in the Ghent City Cemetery.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 10th June 1916
In Memoriam
HENN. In precious and unfading memory of John Willies Henn, the dearly loved and darling boy of George and Sarah Henn of Saskatoon, Canada, and late of Tipton who was shot on June 9th 1894.

Tipton Herald 5th May 1917
In Memoriam
Dearly cherished by his family is the precious and unfading memory of Ernest George Henn, the dearly loved and eldest son of George and Sarah Henn of Saskatoon, who gave his life for another in the Lucitania disaster, May 7th 1915; also Edith Mabel, his dear wife, that was lost with him.

Tipton Herald 18th May 1918
In Memoriam.
Dearly cherished by his mother, father and brothers is the precious and unfading memory of Ernest George Henn, the dearly loved and eldest son of George and Sarah Henn of Saskatoon, Canada and late of Tipton, who lost his life in the Lucitania disaster, May 7th 1915. Also his dear wife Mabel.

Dudley Herald September 21st 1918
Official information has been received by Mr and Mrs Henn, of Castle Street, Dudley of the death of their son, Private William Bramwell Henn, of the 2nd Worcestershire Regiment, while a Prisoner of War in the hands of the Germans in a military hospital at Ghent, and that his remains had been interred in the West Cemetery of that ancient city.
The deceased soldier, a native of Dudley, was an old boy of St. Thomas's School. After leaving school he joined his father's trade, and later went into business as a watchmaker and jeweller in Great Bridge. He joined the army in February 1916, and served two winters in the trenches. He was wounded on April 15th while fighting on the Somme by a gunshot in the knee, and was taken prisoner by the Germans. On the 20th of the month his parents received a card from him, which after saying he was wounded and a prisoner, added "I am also having plenty to eat, so you need not worry." On the 23rd came another card saying "I am going on quite as well as I expected, so don't worry about me. I am fairly well off, better than a good many." The news of his death, which occurred on April 26th, has only recently come to hand.
Much sympathy is being expressed with the parents and family. Their son was 32, and unmarried. Another son, Corporal K Henn, is serving in the Royal Flying Corps, and their son-in-law, Captain Horace Lloyd, R.E., who has been at the front since the beginning of the war, is at present time home on leave.
The family believe that William had been wounded in the leg, and although his comrade's wanted to carry him with them he insisted that he would be alright. He was left on the battlefield for 3 days, and after being recovered and taken to hospital by the Germans, succumbed to his wounds.