Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Death of a Linslade Hero

William Harper Brantom (Find-A-Grave)

Thursday 13th July 1916: A year ago we heard that William Harper Brantom of Ivy Dene, Stoke Road, Linslade, had won the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Now news has been received that he is one of the early casualties of the terrible battle that has broken out in the area of the Somme. Brantom, was a popular local figure.  He was an old boy of Dunstable Grammar School and a keen sportsman, playing for both Leighton Town Cricket Club and Linslade Football Club. He joined the Civil Service Rifles immediately war broke out and won his DCM for gallantry in a bombing raid at the Battle of Festubert, during which he was wounded in the shoulder. He was offered a commission on a number of occasions, but refused as he did not want to leave his comrades. When he was given the unusual honour of being offered a commission in his own battalion he accepted, and at the time of his death he was a Second Lieutenant.

 Lt. Brantom had been home on leave at the end of June, when he was in excellent health and spirits. He had only been back in France for four days when he was killed. His father has received the following letter from his commanding officer:
“As Colonel of the battalion and on behalf of all my officers, I wish to offer you and your family our deep sympathy. On the night of July 3rd-4th, there was heavy artillery fire on our trenches and your son was struck by a piece of shell, which penetrated his steel helmet and killed him instantaneously. Last year at Festubert he and three others gained the DCM. These were the first honours that the battalion had gained, and we were proud of them. When he rejoined the battalion as an officer in January last, we were all glad to have him back. His loss to us is great, for he was a most capable and trustworthy officer. He was buried yester afternoon by one of the Chaplains of our Brigade, in one of the recognised Cemeteries here.”
Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 18th July 1916

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