War memorial: Appeal for information

I am currently researching the stories behind the names that appear on the local war memorial to the fallen during the Second World War located in Stocksbridge, Sheffield.

One of which is that of Private 143942 John William Brannan, 6th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, who, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Find War Dead register, was the son of John William and Mary Anne Brannan and husband of Dorothy Fielding Brannan of Stocksbridge, Yorkshire; who died on January 18, 1944, aged 33, and as a consequence of which is buried in the Minturno War Cemetery in Grave II.J.5. The burials in which (2,049) are mainly those of the heavy casualties incurred during the forced crossing of the Gargliano River, that finally resulted in the western end of the German defensive Gustav Line being breeched. And given that the battle to cross the Gargliano River began on January 17, 1944, it therefore appears that John incurred his mortal wound(s) whilst undertaking the crossing itself, or, received them shortly after presumably surviving the crossing and hence whilst participating in the push towards the town of Minturno – which was taken on January 19, 1944.

And the following additional information regarding John appears on page 5 of the May 27, 1944, edition of the Penistone Express which reads as follows: “Mrs JW Brannan of 49 Smithy Moor, Stocksbridge, has been informed that her husband Private JW Brannan, died of wounds on January 18 in Italy.

“Joining up in 1942 he spent his training time in England and then went abroad.

“Mr and Mrs Brannan came to Stocksbridge from Scarborough about four years ago and Mr Brannan was shop steward in the pipefitters shop in the local works.

“He leaves a widow and two children, John and Madeline.”

However, given that requests for any further information concerning John and his family via local media have thus far drawn a blank, and that I have no access to either his service record or the various relevant battalion, brigade and divisional war diaries, together with the lack of available literary and internet information, I was therefore wondering if any of your readers could shed any additional light regarding the story of John given the reference to the Scarborough connection – for which I would be most grateful.

I can be contacted at stoc2bridge@hotmail.co.uk or 4 Robertshaw Crescent, Deepcar, Sheffield S36 2RX.

Michael Parker

Robertshaw Crescent