Sunday, November 27, 2011

LAC John Metcalf Brannon, RAFVR

(Top): LAC John Metcalf Brannon, RAFVR
Died on active service, 1 June 1942, aged 22 years
[Courtesy of 'The Whitehaven News'

(Bottom): CWGC Headstone of LAC John M. Brannon
Whitehaven Cemetery, Cumberland [Grave Ref. 6/N/65]

For additional information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

(a) LAC John Metcalf Brannon:
CWGC citation

Casualty Details
Initials: J M
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Leading Aircraftman
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Age: 22
Date of Death: 01/06/1942
Service No: 548467
Additional information: Son of Mrs. M. A. Brannon, of Bransty, Whitehaven.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Ward 6. Sec. N. Grave 65.
Cemetery: WHITEHAVEN CEMETERY, Cumberland (UK)

Wednesday, 30 November, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

(b) Some biographical information

Leading Aircraftman John Metcalf Brannon (Service No 548467) was the second son of Thomas ('Tommy') Brannon and Mary Ann ('Polly') Brannon (nee Metcalf) of 55 Haig Avenue, Bransty, Whitehaven, Cumberland (now Cumbria). 'Jack', or 'Jacky', as he was known by many of his family and friends was born at Whitehaven in 1920. Tommy and Polly's other children were Thomas (born 1914), Robert (born 1921), William (born 1924, died 1925), Isobel (born 1926), George (born 1928) and a second William (born 1930).

It is believed Jack died as the result of a bad reaction following an inoculation. Relatives were told the cause was because he had been injected with a dirty needle. At the time of his death on Monday 1 June 1942, LAC Jack Brannon was 22 years old.

On leaving school Jack Brannon worked at two of the local coal mines in West Cumberland for a short time (Lowca Pit and William Pit). Jack then took advantage of a Government 'transfer of labour' scheme and moved to work in southern England for a time before enlisting with the RAFVR in 1938. Jack Brannon was a keen all round sportsman and had played rugby for his RAF squadrons.

In 1940 LAC Jack Brannon was in France with the RAF being based near the France / Italy border. He was among the last dozen RAF ground crew to leave France. For a time Jack Brannon had been attached to the same fighter squadron as the New Zealander Flying Officer (Pilot) Edgar 'Cobber' Kain, DFC who was one of the earliest and best known 'Aces' of WW2. ('Cobber' Kain was killed on 7 June 1940 and is buried at Choly War Cemetery, France).

Jack Brannon died whilst based in the Inverness area, Scotland. The place of death was recorded as Raigmore Hospital, Inverness. After Jack died, his body was taken back to his home town of Whitehaven for burial. He was laid to rest in Whitehaven Cemetery (Grave Ref. 6/N/65) following a funeral service at St Begh's R.C. Church, Coach Road, Whitehaven. The funeral service was conducted by the Parish Priest of St Begh's, Father Anselm Lightbound, O.S.B., who was later to become Abbot of the Benedictine Monastery of Belmont, Herefordshire.

A number of fellow NCOs from LAC Brannon's base represented the squadron at his funeral. Many floral tributes were sent. The family also received a personal letter from Jack Brannon's Commanding Officer, Squadron Leader A. Collins.

Just over 5 years later, in August 1947, the Brannon family suffered another terrible personal tragedy. Jack Brannon's father, Tommy Brannon, was a coal miner working as a 'chocker' at the William Pit, Whitehaven. A 'chocker' is a miner who builds the 'chocks' between stone packs to support the roof of the coal face. It is a vital job in ensuring the efficient and safe extraction of coal by the face workers.

On Friday 15 August 1947, at 5.40 pm, there was an explosion at the William Pit, Whitehaven. As a consequence, 104 miners working underground at the time lost their lives. One of these was Tommy Brannon, then aged 57. His body was brought to the surface at 10.50 am on Tuesday 19 August. He was the 83rd of the 104 men who died to be brought to the surface. Tommy Brannon was also laid to rest in Whitehaven Cemetery in the same grave as his son John.

John Metcalf Brannon is commemorated in the Borough of Whitehaven WW2 'Book of Remembrance'. Unfortunately, his name was missed off the WW2 War Memorial of St Begh's R.C. Parish Church, Whitehaven (his home parish). His father, Thomas Brannon, is commemorated in a Remembrance Book for the miners who lost their lives working in the Whitehaven area mines.

Thursday, 01 December, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...


Cumbria County Archives & Library Service
(Whitehaven Records Office)

'The Whitehaven News'

Mr Frank Lewthwaite, Whitehaven
Local historian, friend and neighbour of the Brannon family

Amanda Garraway,
Author of '104 Men' about the 1947 William Pit disaster

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thursday, 01 December, 2011  

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