Alfred Brocklebank

SECOND OFFICER

Ethnicity British
Born June 2nd, 1874 at Birkenhead
Hair Brown
Eyes Blue/grey
Height 5 ft 7.5/1.71 m

 

Rank:

Ship:

Tonnage:

Year:

4th Officer

Runic

12.500

1903

4th Officer

Cedric

21.100

1906

3rd Officer

Canopic

13.000

1907

3rd Officer

Celtic

20.900

1909 (?)

2nd Officer

Arabic

15.800

1910

2nd Officer

Britannic (II)

48.200

1916

1st Officer

Adriatic

24.000

1917

?

Zealandic (cargo)

8.100

1918

Captain

Gallic (cargo)

7.900

1919/1920

 

POINTS OF INTEREST

- Alfred Brocklebank seems to have been the only Officer onboard during Britannic’s final voyage who was in possession of the Extra Master’s Certificate. The other Officers, including Captain Bartlett, only held the Ordinary Masters Certificate.

- In 1903 Brocklebank was serving on the Runic, as 4th Officer. It is possible that Britannic’s Assistant Commander Dyke was also onboard and therefor they already knew eachother prior to their appointment on Britannic.

- He sailed on the Celtic as a passenger, aged 32, arriving in New York on March the 8th, 1907. His occupation is described as ‘3rd marine Officer’. The White Star Line paid the voyage; he was going to Boston to join the SS Canopic.

- While he was 4th Officer on the Cedric, he served together with future Titanic Officer William Murdoch.

- Whilst serving as 1st Officer on the Adriatic in 1917, the captain was Joseph Ranson who commanded the Britannic from Belfast to Southampton.

 

HMHS Britannic: A Question Of ‘Two’ Second Officers

By Mark Chirnside

 

 It has been said that over the last few years many new details have come to light about not only the Titanic, but also her elder and younger sisters. At a time when it could be asked if there was anything new to learn, my own answer has to be a definite ‘yes.’ Britannic continues to be a ‘ship of mystery’ in many respects, and recently some information has come to light about the identification of the ship’s second officers.

 From Britannic’s maiden voyage at the end of 1915 to her lay-up in the summer of 1916, it had always been recorded that her second officer was ‘A. Brockehurst.’ Similarly, after the ship’s return to service in September 1916 a number of her crew had changed, and her second officer from that point was recorded as ‘A. Brocklebank.’ Certainly it seemed quite a coincidence that two different men could serve on the same ship in the same position, albeit for periods several months apart, with such similar names – and identical initials. Yet the belief that there were two different officers can be challenged by the available evidence, and it can now be demonstrated – fairly conclusively, in my view – that Britannic’s second officer was Alfred Brocklebank throughout the ship’s brief career.

 The belief that the Britannic’s first second officer was ‘A. Brockehurst’ appears to stem solely from an entry in the ship’s 1915 crew manifest, where this name is indeed written clearly. Unfortunately, as yet there does not seem to be any other trace of such an officer in the employ of the White Star Line, and examination of Alfred Brocklebank’s career history casts considerable doubt on whether an ‘A. Brockehurst’ ever existed. Unlikely as it may seem that the ship’s manifest could incorrectly record one of the officer’s names, at present that would appear to be the only plausible explanation.

 Indeed, Alfred Brocklebank’s career records show that he had joined the Britannic on December 20th 1915, just three days prior to the maiden voyage. While it does seem mysterious that the crew manifest apparently recorded an incorrect name, in my view it would be even more unlikely still for Alfred Brocklebank’s career record to be wrong. Not only is he shown to be serving as the Britannic’s Second Officer for the earlier part of her career, from December 1915 to the ship’s summer 1916 lay-up, but a crew manifest for the Britannic dating from May 1916 also clearly records the ship’s second officer as Alfred Brocklebank – whose age, birthplace, and seagoing certificates are identical. He is also recorded as serving once more as the ship’s second officer following Britannic’s return to service in September 1916. His time as the ship’s second officer from September 1916 matches the information recorded on Britannic’s crew manifest.

 Alfred Brocklebank was forty-one when he joined the Britannic for her maiden voyage in December 1915, and had served on a number of White Star’s ships prior to the war. Born in Birkenhead, he had first gone to sea aged seventeen (serving on the barque Lathom), gained his master’s certificate in 1900 and then his extra master’s certificate two years later. Serving on the Arabic and Celtic from 1910-13, by July 1913 he had once more joined the Arabic, and after a brief stint on the Bovic he spent thirteen months on the Baltic from February 1914. Prior to joining the Britannic, he had spent time on the Adriatic – still White Star’s flagship only a few years beforehand. He spent at least one voyage on the Celtic towards the end of June 1916, while Britannic was temporarily out of service, and then by the start of September 1916 he had re-joined his old ship. He served ships such as the Adriatic and Zealandic following the Britannic’s loss, although as yet there is something of a minor mystery as to what happened to him, since his papers do not record any further postings after 1920. It is possible that Brocklebank, still only in his mid-40s, retired from the sea, although it is merely speculation at this point. Certainly it would be interesting to find out what happened to him, yet it seems a great step forward that much information has come to light regarding his time on the Britannic.

 

Acknowledgements

My thanks to Remco Hillen, and Hilary Thomas for their kind assistance.

 

"POINTS OF INTEREST" researched and compiled by Remco Hillen. No unauthorized usage allowed.

For any questions, remarks or possible mistakes, please contact

Sources

Inger Sheil

Mark Chirnside

Mark Baber’s daily ‘White Star Line History’

‘HMHS Britannic, the Last Titan’ – Simon Mills

‘Hostage to Fortune’ – Simon Mills

‘RMS Olympic, Old Reliable’ – Simon Mills

‘William McMaster Murdoch – A Career at sea’ – Susanne Störmer

www.ellisisland.org

www.encyclopedia-titanica.org

www.titanic-titanic.com/white%20star%20line%20ships.shtml

www.titanicinquiry.org

www.theshipslist.com/ships/lines/bisn.html

www.william-mcmaster-murdoch.org

www.bytenet.net/kaleidoscope/osnc/fleet/baltic2.htm