Tragedy of the Brackstone brothers - one woman's mission to piece together stories of her great-uncles killed in WW1

Pat Bryant with some of the records, photographs and memorabilia about her great-uncles and grandfather collection over many years

Pat Bryant with some of the records, photographs and memorabilia about her great-uncles and grandfather collection over many years

First published in News by

Startling evidence has emerged of a single Poole family that lost four sons during the First World War.

The Brackstone brothers, from Parkstone, joined different regiments and were killed amid the carnage of the Western Front and the bloody Mesopotamian campaign.

See more stories on the First World War, stories from our archives and more in our dedicated World War One section 

Documents showing the extent of their sacrifice only came to light after relative Pat Bryant, their great niece, started delving into her family’s history.

“It seemed like nobody knew about this terrible thing that happened,” Pat told Seven Days.

“Perhaps it was because it was so horrible, no-one in the family wanted to speak about it.”

Pat’s grandfather Edwin, who served in the Great War and survived, never talked about the loss of his four brothers, she said.

Bournemouth Echo:  Pat’s grandfather Edwin George Charles Henry Brackstone, front row, third from left. He was the only Brackstone brother to survive and never talked about his loss

The family had already experienced tragedy years earlier when the Brackstone boys’ mother died in childbirth with her youngest, Herbert.

Twenty years later, in 1919, Herbert was the last of her four sons to lose his life because of the war.

It is unclear from documents if he was injured before the 1918 Armistice and died later of his wounds, or if he was killed between the Armistice and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which officially brought the conflict to an end.

However, he is named at Etaples Military Cemetery in France.

Frederick Brackstone, a private in the 1st Battalion, Duke of Edinburgh’s (Wiltshire Regiment) was killed in action in France on March 24, 1918. He was either 20 or 21 and is named at the Arras Memorial.

Elder brother Robert, a private in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died in France or Flanders, aged 30. The father-of-two was killed just nine days before the 1918 Armistice signalled the end of hostilities.

Meanwhile, brother Frank, who is listed at the Basra War Cemetery, was killed with the Dorsetshire Regiment while serving in the Mesopotamia campaign. He died in 1916, aged 20.

Pat, aged 76, says the boys’ father, her great-grandfather Edward, remarried after the war and went on to have more children.

“I only discovered about the four deaths a couple of years ago,” she said.

“My grandfather never talked about this – he lost four brothers but never talked about it.

“They would have been my great uncle’s but I never knew about them. A friend of mine is now helping me to find out more about their lives.”

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