Photograph taken on the day of Bernard’s passing out parade – courtesy of Sylvia Johnson.
Born: 1913, Ipswich.
Died: 20th May 1940; age: 26.
Rank: Private; Service Number: S/57691.
Regiment: Royal Army Service Corps.
Father: William James Brightwell, born June 1863, Stonham Aspall, Suffolk – died April 1917, at 22, Suffolk Road, Ipswich.
Mother: Alice Elizabeth Brightwell (nee Peart), born August 1867, Needham Market, Suffolk – died 1915, Ipswich.
Family Note from 94 year old Sylvia Johnson (nee Brightwell):
Bernard’s mother, Alice was riddled with Cancer when he was born, and exhausted with the care of her twelve children. Bernard’s older sisters took it in turn to nurse and care for him until they turn 13 and 14 years old and had to go into Service. At the age of 5, Bernard went into care at one of the Shaftesbury Homes for Boys, in Twickenham, Middlesex. He received a good education and won many books as prizes. After Bernard matriculated he worked in the jewellery quarter in London. For a while he did very well and became a joint partner in his own business. In the mid-thirties the Jewish community began to settle in the city, as experts in jewellery, Bernard’s business began to suffer and eventually collapsed. In 1938 he returned to live with his family at Woodville Road, Ipswich, and took up manually work – which he did not enjoy.
Bernard followed in his brothers footsteps (6 brothers served in the Army in World War One) joined the Army in 1939, and had nearly finished his training when he came home on embarkation leave, by Christmas 1939 he was in France.
Bernard’s brother, Frederick Peart Brightwell lost his life in the First World War, on the 22nd November 1917, of Tubercle of the Lungs. He was 26 years old, ranked a Private, service number 3262, for the 2nd Dragoon Guards, Queen’s Bays. Frederick was laid to rest at St. Mary’s Churchyard, Easington, Durham.
Frederick had left his home in Ipswich at a young age to fine work. He eventually found work in the coal mines, and sent a bit of money home to help his family. Frederick married his landlady, who was widowed, a few years older and with a young family (a bit like a Catherine Cookson novel, but quite sad). Holidays were virtually none existent and travel costly and slow, Frederick had only returned to visit his home in Ipswich just once.
Sylvia followed in the family tradition and joined the Army in 1941, serving in the A.T.S. during the Second World War. Followed by a long service in the T.A.
The Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) was a corps of the British Army. It was responsible for land, coastal and lake transport; air dispatch; supply of food, water, fuel, and general domestic stores such as clothing, furniture and stationery (but not ammunition and military and technical equipment, which were the responsibility of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps); administration of barracks; the Army Fire Service; and provision of staff clerks to headquarters units.