Son of Mr. Henry Bratby and Mrs. Julia Bratby of 7, and 15, Brook Street, Congleton, Cheshire and 11, Howey Lane, Congleton, Cheshire and husband of Mary Ellen Bratby, (nee Clarke) of 34 Fox Street, Congleton, Cheshire and 11, Howey Lane, Congleton, He had five children, James Frederick, Albert Edward, Alice, Fred and Nellie Bratby. He had five sisters, Julia, Kate, Rachel, Harriet and Hannah Bratby, along with two brothers, Joseph and Albert Edward Bratby His son Albert Edward Bratby, was killed in action on the Somme on the 1st of July 1916, whilst serving with the Manchester Pals.
Prior to the war Gunner Bratby had been employed as a Fustian Cutter, Grocer's Salesman, and a Van Man.
On the night of the 12th/13th of May 1915, H.M.S. Goliath was anchored in Morto Bay off Cape Helles, along with H.M.S. Cornwallis and a screen of five destroyers, in foggy conditions. Around 01:00 hours on the 13th of May, the Turkish torpedo boat destroyer Muavenet-i- Milliye, which was manned by a combined German and Turkish crew, eluded the destroyers Beagle and Bulldog and closed on the battleships. The Muavenet-i-Milliye fired two torpedoes which struck Goliath almost simultaneously abreast her fore turret and abeam the fore funnel, causing a massive explosion. Goliath began to capsize almost immediately, and was lying on her beam ends when a third torpedo struck near her third turret. She then rolled over completely and began to sink by the bows, taking 570 of the 700 strong crew to the bottom. Among them was Gunner James Frederick Bratby, his body was never recovered.
Extract from the Congleton Chronicle 1915
Mr. James Frederick Bratby, of Howey Hill, was the first Reservist to leave Congleton. He received his instructions at 04:30 hours on Monday morning and shortly before 08:00 hours attired his naval dress, he was smilingly bidding good bye to his many friends in the town. He left Congleton shortly after 08:00 hours, anticipating the call of duty Mrs. Bratby had prepared her husband's naval clothes, etc., in readiness on Sunday, but fervently hoped her anticipations would not be realised. In a letter to his wife, written from Stonehouse, Plymouth, on Monday, where he was then stationed, Mr. Bratby said he was expecting to be drafted away at any moment, but did not then know the destination, nor the ship he would serve upon. Mr. Bratby is a gunner in the Royal Fleet Reserve, and has just become entitled to his long service and good conduct medal. On Tuesday Mr. Bratby wrote to his home as follows. Off on board H M S. Goliath. On Tuesday last Mrs. Bratby received the following letter from her husband,
5th May, 1915.
Just a line to let you know I am alright up to now, let me know what Bert is doing and where he is. They are sending a lot of them out here. If he comes here he will have enough to last him a life time. I have had enough. Give my love to the children, as I cannot write to all of them. We have a big job on here. Can you find out if the Captain Antrobus who has been killed here, is the Captain Antrobus, of Eaton Hall, Congleton? he was killed the day he arrived here. We are having a hot time of it here. I shall be glad when it is all over and I can get home again. What would I not give for a good meal and a good night's sleep in my own bed, but I suppose the day will come. I am not downhearted, only I want to get home. Kiss all the children for me and God bless you all.
On Monday, His Worship the Mayor (Alderman J. T. Lewis) and the Town Clerk wired to the Admiralty asking for information regarding Gunner Bratby and the following reply was received, Regret James Frederick Bratby, Private, R.M.L.I., not on list of survivors received.
The Captain Antrobus James mentions in his letter was Captain Antrobus of Eaton Hall.
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for the information on James.