Private Septimus Harold Bromley in France, with “Badger”
Byfield resident Septimus Harold Bromley was born in 1890 (yes, he was the seventh child in his family) at Church Street Farm. He was the son of John and Mary Bromley and later lived at Home Farm, Westhorpe Lane, Byfield. Janet Blake, who still lives in the village, was his niece.
He joined the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry (Territotials) as a private. He, like many others, provided his own uniform and took his horse with him whenever he attended training, parades and such like. When not soldiering his horse “Badger” was ridden to hounds, played polo for Daventry and lived a working life on the family farm.
In 1914, the British Army was made-up entirely of volunteers, some of whom were part time soldiers; Septimus, was one of those. The Territorials were intended to be a home defence force who originally were not compelled to go overseas. However because many volunteered for Imperial Service, Territorials willing to fight anywhere, Septimus first went to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force (the Old Contemptibles*) soon after the outbreak of war in August of that year. He, along with those who fought during the retreat from Mons and the First Battle of Ypres, was awarded the bronze 1914 campaign medal (the “Mons Star”) and subsequently the “Clasp and Roses” bar to that medal, that being awarded to those who were under fire during those first months of the “Great War”.
Septimus continued to fight in the cavalry throughout that first winter before being repatriated home to train others in the Yeomanry’s 2nd and 3rd Lines as reinforcements; “Badger” came home too.
Septimus, with “Badger”, went back to France in 1917 and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 1st Dragoon Guards on 16th April of that year. He and “Badger” survived the war.
Septimus was also awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Lieutenant Septimus Harold Bromley, & “Badger”.
Septimus was married in 1926 and they had one son, Peter, who was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in 1949, aged only 21. Peter was returning from a speedway event, he supported Coventry's Brandon Bees, who are still speedway racing but as a cycle club; their motorised branch is now the Coventry Bees.
In the 2nd World War, Septimus was Byfield’s Special Constable of police, and he also served as a Parish Councillor. Although a member of the Air Training Corps, Peter was too young to serve in that war.
And “Badger”? We don’t know - but hope he had a heroes’ funeral.
* The Old Contemptibles? Self named by the BEF as such, after a publicised comment by Kaiser Bill