No. 16204, 14th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Died of wounds on 8 June 1917 (aged 30)
Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery, France (Grave I. F. 11)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s)
Davidson & Company (Sirocco Works) Memorial
(now in the Somme Heritage Centre, 233 Bangor Road, Newtownards)
Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour
Mountpottinger Corps of the Salvation Army Memorial Tablet
Parchment Memorial for the Salvation Army’s Ballymacarrett No 1 Band
Rowney Family Grave Headstone in Belfast City Cemetery
In some records his surname is spelt Branken, in others Brinkin, in others Brinkins, and in others Rankin.
In the 1918 edition of the Newtownards Almanac he is named as John Brankin.
George Brankin, a twin, was born at 7.00 am 3 March 1888 in North Street, Newtownards and he was a son of James and Agnes Anna Brankin (nee Savage) who were married on 24 June 1871 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s). James Brankin (aged 21), a box maker from Belfast, was a son of Thomas Brankin, a farmer. Agnes Anna Savage (aged 20) from Upper Movilla Street, Belfast was a daughter of Abraham Savage, a weaver.
James Brankin worked as a labourer and he and Agnes had at least nine children:
John (born 13 June 1872 in Movilla Street, Newtownards)
Unnamed female child (born 24 October 1876 in Movilla Street, Newtownards)
David Blackwood (born 4 August 1878 in Movilla Street, Newtownards; moved to Canada in 1910, married Mary Chatterton; served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force; died 8 December 1961)
John (born 24 April 1881 in Queen Street, Newtownards)
Elizabeth Jane (born 9 July 1886 in Greenwell Street, Newtownards)
Hugh (born 6.40 am 3 March 1888 in North Street, Newtownards)
George (born 7.00 am 3 March 1888 in North Street, Newtownards)
Agnes Anna (born 21 March 1889 in North Street, Newtownards)
Jessie (Jessey, born 17 March 1891 in South Street, Newtownards)
Their father, James Brankin, died of tuberculosis at 20 Thistle Street, Belfast on 6 July 1896 (aged 40).
In 1901 the Brankin family was living in Marymount Street, Belfast and Agnes described herself as a draper. Her grandson, James Brankin (aged 7), was living with them.
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War George Brankin worked as a labourer in the Davidson & Company Sirocco Works Belfast and at that time he and his wife Mary (Minnie) lived in Seventh Street, Belfast.
George Brankin and Mary (Minnie) Rowney (sometimes Rooney) were married on 31 March 1905 in Trinity Church of Ireland Church Belfast. George Brankin, a labourer, was from 36 Carnan Street, Belfast. Minnie Rooney from 19 Orkney Street, Belfast was a daughter of George Rooney, an iron turner.
George and Mary (Minnie) Brankin had five children:
Dinah Elizabeth (born 31 December 1906 at 22 Eccles Street, Belfast)
John Edward Jennings (born 7 January 1910)
James Semple (born 23 December 1911 at 26 Carlton Street, Belfast; died of bronchitis 16 January 1912)
George Rowney (born 4 April 1913 at 26 Carlton Street, Belfast)
Mary Jane (born 27 January 1916 at 10 Seventh Street, Belfast)
At the outbreak of war George Brankin enlisted in Belfast, went to France in October 1915 and was wounded during the Battle of the Somme.
After a period of convalescence George Brankin served at Ballykinler Camp before being posted back to the Western Front some five weeks before he died.
Sergeant George Brankin (No. 16204) served with the 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 109th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division and it was reported in the Press that he was 30 when he died of wounds sustained during the Battle on Messines Ridge.
At the time of his death his mother was living at 20 William Street, Newtownards and his wife and four surviving children were living at 59 Frederick Street, Newtownards. Jointly they placed a For King and Country notice in the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
God is good, He will give me grace
To bear my heavy cross;
He is the only one who knows
How bitter is my loss.
Dearest children, I have left you
To the care of God above;
Do not let my absence grieve you.
For my sake each other love.
In subsequent years, family members placed Our Heroes – In Memoriam notices in the Chronicle, including one from Annie and George Weber – his sister and brother-in-law who lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
George Weber was also on active service during the Great War.
Their Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in 1918 contained the verse:
In the fiercest of all battles
Midst the roar of shot and shell;
Fighting bravely for his country,
Like a hero true he fell.
It may be a hero’s honour
For his country’s cause to fall,
But we cannot think of the glory
For the sorrow it caused us all.
The Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in 1918 from his mother contained the verse:
A mother’s heart is aching
For her son she loved so dear;
He gave his life for his country,
In honour’s cause he fell.
Sergeant George Brankin (No. 16204) was buried in Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery, France and he is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial; in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s); on the Davidson & Company (Sirocco Works) Memorial (now in the Somme Heritage Centre, 233 Bangor Road, Newtownards); in the Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour; on the Mountpottinger Corps of the Salvation Army Memorial Tablet; on a parchment memorial for the Salvation Army’s Ballymacarrett No 1 Band; on the Rowney Family Grave Headstone in Belfast City Cemetery.