Broomhead, Harry Burton DSM; Chief Engineroom Artificer 1st Class; RN/RAN 8278

Yorkshireman Harry Broomhead was born on 25 May 1876. He was one of the skilled RN group lent to the RAN for the new AE2 submarine.

A handsome man, he had a quiet, conscientious temperament. He suffered greatly as a prisoner of war, and in 1918 his distraught mother wrote to the Central Prisoners of War Committee, begging for their assistance. She had received a letter from Broomhead telling her that he was ‘practically starving’ and weighed only 4 stones, 11 1/2 pounds.

Broomhead did survive, although it must have been a close call in his weakened skeletal condition. He was reunited with his wife in Southsea, where he slowly recuperated, only to later discover that his RN seniority had been compromised by his years as a prisoner of war and there was a question mark over his medical fitness. He decided to return to Australia, as did many of his fellow AE2 crew members, although he remained with the RN. On loan, he re-enlisted in the RAN where he rose in rank to commissioned engineer officer by 1924.

Although he officially retired from the RN in August 1924, Broomhead went on to be re-appointed temporarily from that same date, followed by a series of ‘temporary’ appointments in the same way until he finally transferred to the retired list on 25 May 1936. He died in 1946.