An Old Coathamian – Not Forgotten


No. D/JX 167241 Leading Seaman, Royal Navy;
H.M.S. ‘Bramble’.

Died 31 December 1942, aged 31 years.

Commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial,
Devon, Panel 63, Column 3.

The Plymouth Naval Memorial commemorates 15,933 sailors of the Royal Navy who lost their lives in the Second World War, as well as 7,251 in the First World War, and whose only grave is the sea.

The minesweeper H.M.S. ‘Bramble’ was on Arctic convoy escort duty when, on New Year’s Eve 1942, she was sunk in the Barents Sea to the north of Norway by fire from an enemy destroyer. She went down with all hands – eight officers and 113 ratings.

John Morris Coulthard was the only child of Robert Morris Coulthard and Clara Coulthard, who ran the Clarendon Hotel in Marske-by-the-Sea. He was to be an outstanding sportsman and is first recorded in the school magazine of July 1920 as coming third in the under-10 75 yard sprint. This would suggest he joined Coatham Grammar School in September 1919. He was in Pearson’s House, and would have been in the preparatory class at that time. In athletics he ran well at all distances and in 1926, competing against Atterton (q.v.), he won both under-15 high and long jumps and took the school’s junior athletics cup. He played football and cricket for his house and the school, for which he was awarded his colours. When rugby was introduced for the 1927-28 season, he played in the 1st XV, alongside Dixon (q.v.) and was again awarded colours. On leaving school in 1928 he joined the Old Coathamians Association, and continued his sporting activities, captaining Marske Cricket Club and being a prolific goal scorer for both Stockton and South Bank amateur football teams in the 1930s. He worked as an analytical chemist in Middlesbrough and by the time of his war service he was married. His wife Nora and his parents lived in Marske at the time of his death. In 1940 he was on the first published list of Old Coathamians in H.M. Forces, and he was first recorded on the School’s Roll of Honour in December 1943.