One of the greatest rewards I get from writing articles and publishing photographs both on the 'Liverpool Picturebook' website and on the 'Facebook' pages is the feedback that I get from readers. Even more rewarding is when those readers are able to make a contrtibution to the site either in terms of a personal story or by contributing photographs.
Such was the case recently when I was contacted via 'Facebook' by William Bramhill, whos Father served on the 'Indefatigable' mentioned previously in an article on 'Liverpool Picturebook' as a training ship for the boys of the 'Liverpool Seamens Orphanage' in Newsham Park Liverpool.
This is the story of William Frank Bramhill.
I will tell you a little has to the nature of our ship. We rouse out at 6.20 (we sleep in hammocks). At 10 past 7 we have breakfast. From then most of the time is spent on clearing up deck and deck instructions. We are divided into two watches or divisions called port and starboard and during the week we go to school alternately, that is port watch on Monday, Starboard watch on Tuesday. We also have every other weekend off which is very fortunate for me as I live in Liverpool just about three miles from the ship.
William Frank Bramhill who was born on January 30 1913, joined the Merchant Navy seamen's training ship 'Indefatigable' (formerly HMS Phaeton) on the Mersey aged 13.
He served with T&J Harrison, Elder Dempster and MacAndrews, as he worked his way from seaman to navigating officer. During the Second World War he saw action in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and in the Mediterranean. In 1941 Bramhill was commended by Winston Churchill for his brave conduct in firing on a U-boat which surfaced next to his ship. As with great difficulty he angled his Oerlikon gun at the conning tower, a couple of the seamen pelted the sub with peeled potatoes from the galley, hurling Scouse insults at the "Jairmans".
Later in the war, Bramhill was in the merchant vessel Empire Newton at Juno and Gold beaches immediately after D-Day. In 1946 Bramhill moved to Harwich, joining the LNER fleet, later Sealink, and winning his masters' certificate. He first sailed as captain in the late 1950s. On retirement in 1977 he feared that growing dahlias in his East Bergholt garden would "not have the same thrill as a NW 10 gale" but was glad that seagulls ventured as far as his village.