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St James Church Taunton

World War 1 Memorial Project

John Branchflower

 

Name: John Branchflower

Rank: Private

Service Number: 7043

Regiment: Somerset Light Infantry

Battalion/Unit number: 1st Battalion

Date/year of Birth: 1886

Place of Birth: Bishops Lydeard

Date of Death: 30th March 1915

Place of Death: Not known, probably in captivity in Germany

Burial/Memorial: Cologne Southern Cemetery

John Branchflower was an agricultural labourer whose parents, John and Mary, lived in Bishop's Lydeard, a village five miles north west of Taunton.  In 1912 John married Mary Totterdell, and they lived at 20 Elms Parade in Taunton.

He died on 30th March 1915, three weeks before his battalion would be engaged in the 2nd Battle of Ypres.  He was probably in Flanders near Ypres when he may have been captured by German forces, later dying in captivity.  Throughout the war over 12,000 Commonwealth servicemen died in captivity.  Non-commissioned officers and privates, such as John Branchflower, were often forced to work and some died of exhaustion or accidents while labouring in coalmines, stone quarries or steel works.  The most common cause of death in captivity, however, was from disease, such as the typhus outbreak of 1915 which had a devastating effect on the Allied prisoner population.

John Branchflower's remains are buried in Cologne Southern Cemetery.  At the end of the war around 1,000 Commonwealth soldiers who had died in Germany were buried here.  Shortly after the war the Commonwealth War Graves Commission decided to move the bodies of Commonwealth soldiers buried across 180 cemeteries in the west of Germany to Cologne Southern Cemetery, taking the number to 2,500.

 

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