Walter Wilfred Bracey


883DA Deckhand
Royal Naval Reserve
Who died aged 19 on 2nd September 1914
Remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial

Family Background
Walter Bracey was born in Brooke in 1894.  His mother Eliza (née Mace) died in 1899 when Walter was barely five years old and, at the time of the 1901 Census, he and his father Frederick Frances Bracey (a Sidesman in Bergh Apton church) were living as lodgers with Jessie Frost on Welbeck Road. Frederick married Jessie in 1907 and had moved to the Chapel House in Claxton by the time of Walter’s death.

Walter Bracey’s trawler “Eyrie” in drydock in Lowestoft (date unknown). He may well be one of the men in this photo

Walter is named in error on the memorial as Charles W W Bracey.  He was Bergh Apton’s first casualty of the First World War.

Military Service
Walter lodged in Bevan Street in Lowestoft ans was employment as a Deckhand on the drifter “Eyrie” (LT1121).  He was enlisted into the Royal Naval Reserve when the ship was requisitioned as a mine-hunter.

The loss of the ship was reported in the Eastern Daily Press on 3rd September while she was minesweeping in the North Sea off the Humber Estuary.

Walter, with five others including the Captain, were lost as the ship was attempting to retrieve a mine in these very early days of the war (Britain had declared war on Germany on 4th August) when the crews’ skills in dealing with mines may not have been fully developed.

Walter Bracey’s body was never found and his name is on the Royal Navy war memorial on the heights above Chatham in Kent, overlooking the Thames estuary.

More Family Background
In the week following Walter Bracey’s death the “Town and Country” column of the Eastern Daily Press included a report that this was the first casualty of the war for Bergh Apton and that the Rector, Harvey Thursby, had offered the condolences of the people of Bergh Apton to his father Frederick.

The Braceys are one of several examples of wider family bereavement as a result of this war.  Walter Bracey, through his mother Eliza, was a first cousin to Albert Mace and Horace Etheridge who died in the war (q.v.).