Private William Bramley

Private William Bramley, service number 3217, Leicestershire Regiment, 1st/4th Battalion.

Private William Bramley, service number 3217, Leicestershire Regiment, 1st/4th Battalion.

William Bramley was the son of John Simpson and Caroline Bramley. He worked as an employee of the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS), in their Boot and Shoe works in Leicester. He enlisted in the army in August 1914 after the outbreak of war and became part of the Leicester Regiment, 4th Battalion.

Unfortunately, Bramley was killed in action on 21 April 1915, aged 38. His name was included on a list of those who were members of co-operative societies who had died in the war up to 15 May 1915. He and another co-operator from the same factory, Gordon Sutton, were also given an article in a later issue of the Co-operative News. The CWS gave the families of the dead three months wages as compensation after their deaths.

Bramley was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, which was given to all soldiers who had fought in a campaign in the first year of the war. It was colloquially known as ‘Pip’ after a character in a popular comic in the late 1910s. The British War Medal and the Victory Medal, which were also awarded to soldiers who fought in the war, were known as ‘Squeak’ and ‘Wilfred’ respectively after other characters in the comic.


Co-operative News, 15 May 1915, page 643.

Co-operative News, 12 June 1915, page 795. [Accessed 11 April 2015].

WWI co-operative voices

This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.

Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.

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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.