My (maternal) great-grandfather James Brown was born in Drygate, Glasgow on 19 March 1866.  He was the son of James Brown (1829) – a Muslin Singer Operator which I believe was a person employed in singing the nap off the muslin,  – and my great, great, great-grandfather James Brown, a weaver from Glasgow.

James Brown (my g-grandfather that is) did not follow his family into the cloth business but instead was a Blacksmith until the age of 23.  He then volunteered to join the Royal Navy in 1889.  According to his Certificate of Service, James was 5’6″ with brown hair and hazel eyes.  Well, I am around 5’3″ with brown hair and hazel eyes so there must be a definite family resemblance.

James Brown was an Armourer in the Royal Navy and spent time on different ships including “Excellent”, “Pembroke”, “Victory” and many more.  His conduct in the Navy was exemplary and in 1904 he received the “Long Service and Good Conduct Medal”.

Presented to James Brown on 14.8.1904

Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

James Brown married Jessie Freeland on 27 December 1893.  He was based at the Royal Naval Barracks in Portsmouth at the time while Jessie was a thread mill worker living in Glasgow.   They were married at Argyle Hall in Duke Street, Glasgow.

James and Jessie had 3 children – Jane Peden Brown 1897-1917; James Brown 1902 -1961 (my grandfather);  and Jessie Brown 1904 – 1972.

It was while serving on HMS Bayano en route from Glasgow to Liverpool on 11 March 1915 that my great-grandfather died.  He was 48.  I can only imagine he was home on leave before re-joining the Bayano.  His  ship was torpedoed  by a German U-boat (U27) without warning.  It sank very quickly with the loss of 195 officers and ratings.   It seems that, while several attempts have been made to at least identify the shipwreck, HMS Bayano remains unverified at the bottom of the sea.  James Brown’s body and those of his colleagues were never recovered.

HMS Bayano

HMS Bayano

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has recognised my great-grandfather, James Brown, and other seamen who perished during the war at the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

Plaque 8

Plaque 8

Plaque 8

Plaque 8

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

I am grateful to the The War Graves Photographic Project for supplying me with these precious photos.

This is a tragic story in my family history and unfortunately there was more tragedy in that family still to come.

Advertisements