Last year I published the details of the war memorials at St John the Baptist church. Because of the way that parish boundaries are and were set, not all of the Clarendon Park fallen are remembered at St John’s. I would like to remember three brothers who died during the Great War, Harold and Arthur Bree, and their older brother Ernest Harry, who survived.
You might remember their mother, Eliza Bree, from an article I posted right at the beginning of this blogging lark – here. Mrs Bree lived in Avenue Road Extension and in 1898 got into a bit of bother with her drunken boarder. Eliza and her husband Harry had a large-ish family – Emma b1878, Ernest Harry b1887, Sydney John (1890-1), Harold b1892, Arthur Edward b1896, Oliver b1898, Doris May (b1904), Ivy Helen (b1907), as well as several others who died in infancy.
At the outbreak of the war, Ernest Harry, a railway goods porter, joined the Leicestershire Regiment as a private (nos 2046, 200223), fought in France and lived to tell the tale. He died in Coalville in 1965.
Harold Bree enjoyed – if that is the right word – a varied career in the Army Service Corps and the Royal Engineers. At the time of his death on 2nd May 1918 he was a Sapper in the Royal Engineers (Railway Traffic Establishment), perhaps due to skills picked up from his railway porter father and brother (Harold himself was a butcher before the war). He died in England and was buried at Welford Rd Cemetery in consecrated ground, alongside fellow casualties Private Vivian Harry Ringrose and Private William George Grewcock.
Arthur Edward Bree, also a railway porter, joined up as a Private in the 4th bttn Worcs Regiment and died on 16th Aug 1917, during the 3rd battle of Ypres. His body was never found and he is remembered at Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium to the missing in Belgian Flanders.
Younger brother Oliver died six days later, as a Private in the Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment), having transferred from the Leicestershire Regiment. He was just 19. He is buried in Potijze Chateau Grounds Cemetery, Western Flanders.
Sadly none of the service records for the Bree brothers survive, being amongst those water damaged and lost during the second world war, which is such a pity as it seems that almost all we know of these young men is that they lived and died. And what of Harry and Eliza Bree? How awful for them to have lost three of their four surviving sons to the slaughter.
Thank you to David Roberts for telling me about the Bree brothers some months ago, and to the volunteers at Welford Road Cemetery visitors centre, who were so helpful in showing me where Harold Bree is buried. It was good to visit his grave and see the poppy placed there by the volunteers. Elizabeth