William James Bradbeer was born in the spring of 1888, the youngest of eight children to Alfred and Jane Bradbeer from Bridgwater in Somerset. Alfred was a carriage trimmer, fitting out the train coaches for the local railways.
Sadly, William lost both of his parents in 1910; by this point he was 22, and was working as a schoolmaster along with his older brother Alfred. Five of the Bradbeer siblings were living together by this point, along with Sidney Palfrey, a photographer, who was boarding with them.
On 27th December 1911, William married Selina Nurse, who was also from Bridgwater, and whose father was a master mariner. The couple did not have any children together.
There is little evidence of William’s life after his marriage. He was enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery during the war, although no details of his military service are available. The battalions provided support in key forts primarily along the south coast of England, but also in places like the Channel Isles, Malta and Sierra Leone. Without Second Lieutenant Bradbeer’s records, it is impossible to know specifically where he served, but it would seem likely that he remained in England during the war.
The last years of William’s are also shrouded in mystery; he passed away on 8th August 1920, at the age of 32. I have been unable to uncover a cause of death, but it seems likely to have been an illness, as there is nothing in the contemporary media to suggest anything unusual or untoward.
William James Bradbeer lies at rest in the Wembdon Road Cemetery in his home town of Bridgwater. Sadly, though, his grave is also lost to time, and I was unable to pinpoint its location. In death, as in his later years, William remains a mystery.
Note: The grave at the top of this page, however, is of a couple of his Bradbeer relatives, buried in the same cemetery.