J. E. Brown
Private, Middlesex Regiment, 18th Battalion
Died 22 June 1916, aged 23
Service no. PW/2950
Remembered at Gorre British And Indian Cemetery
Chris Burge writes:
John Edward Brown was born in Peckham in 1893, one of five children and the only son of Mark Edward and Alice (née Spash) Brown, who were married in 1891 at St Agnes, Southwark. The family later moved to Lambeth.
In the 1911 census, John was living with his mother and three of his younger sisters. Then 18, John worked as a warehouseman for a dealer in glass and china. Five people shared four rooms at 68c Hackford Road. The family had moved to 20 Nealdon Street by 1914.
John volunteered on 25 May 1915, enlisting in London. Just three sheets of his original service papers have survived; they describe him as a labourer who was 5ft 6in tall and weighed 124lbs. John’s vision without glasses was only good enough for a ‘non shooting unit’. He found himself posted to one of the Middlesex Regiment’s three pioneer battalions. By July 1915, the 18th Middlesex had moved to the Clipstone Camp near Mansfield, home to thousands of soldiers in training. The final months before departing for France were spent on Salisbury Plain. Private Brown landed at La Havre on 15 November 1915.
By June 1916, John’s battalion had suffered fewer than 20 casualties. In the third week of the month they were working on the construction of dug-outs and shelters, with one company ‘mining under no-mans lands’. On the 21st at 2am the enemy blew several large mines destroying part of the front line where C and D companies were working. Total casualties were: seven killed (including John), one officer and 20 men wounded and one missing.
John’s parents remained at 26 Hargywne Street until at least 1930.