Lance Serjeant 17403 William Henry Brown

 Brown William 96 400x600

Killed in Action on Thursday, 4th October 1917, age 36.

Commemorated on Panel 90 to 92 and 162 to 162A of Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

7th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 33rd Brigade of 11th Division.

Son of William Henry and Sarah Ann Brown; husband of Rose Brown, of 79, Leabrook, Wednesbury.
Born: Wednesbury, Enlisted: Wednesbury, Resident: Unknown.

First landed Balkans, 11th September 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. Mark's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/843411/

Genealogical Data

Birth of William Henry Brown registered December quarter 1880 at West Bromwich.

1901 Census
Rooth Street, Wednesbury, Staffs.
William Brown (45, Stationary Engine Driver, born Whitchurch), his wife Sarah Ann (45, born Wednesbury), and their 5 children: William H. (20, Steam Hammer Driver, born Wednesbury), Thomas (17, Electric Tram Guard, born Wednesbury), John (13, born Wednesbury), David (13, born Wednesbury), and Alice M. (5, born Wednesbury).

Marriage of William Brown and Rose Goode registered June quarter 1901 at West Bromwich.

1911 Census
32 Leabrook, Wednesbury, Staffs.
William Henry Brown (30, Steam Boiler Stoker, born Wednesbury), his wife Rosa (27, born Wednesbury), and their 2 surviving children of 4: Florence Maud (4, born Wednesbury), and Elisabeth Rosa (1, born Wednesbury). Two further daughters were born: Annie on 8th June 1911, and Elsie on 12th July 1913.

Personal Data

The 'Staffordshire Roll of Honour' records 'W H Brown, Sgt South Staffs'. There is no other candidate than this man, who 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' shows as born and enlisted in Wednesbury. The area of Leabrook is on the border of Tipton and Wednesbury, so it is almost certain to be the correct man.

On 30th September 1916, William was admitted to No. 11 Casualty Clearing Station at Gezaincourt, well to the west of the Somme battlefield. He was 35 years of age and had been 13 months on active service. He was suffering from a Gun Shot Wound to the left shoulder. After just one day, William was evacuated to one of the hospitals near the coast, being transported on No. 30 Ambulance Train.

After William's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £2/17/6d (2 pounds, 17 shillings and 6 pence); this was paid to his widow and sole legatee, Rose, in March 1918. His War Gratuity was £12/10/0d (12 pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to Rose in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that William had enlisted in April 1915.

His widow, Rose, received a Grant of £5 on 5th November 1917. She was then awarded a Pension for herself and 4 children, this was initially £1/10/0d (1 pound and 10 shillings) on 29th April 1918, but increased to £1/15/0d (1 pound and 15 shillings) just a few days later on 1st May 1918.

Action resulting in his death

William was posted to the 7th Battalion, South Staffs. On 4th October 1917 the 7th South Staffs attacked at Poelcapelle as part of the 3rd Battle of Ypres. The attack was moderately successful, but the 7th South Staffs were not allowed to follow-up their success. 42 men of the 7th South Staffs are recorded as being killed in action on the 4th October. William, like most of these men, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

The Battle of Poelcappelle. From "The History of the 7th South Staffs Regiment"
During the night the forming-up tapes were put out, always a trickish job. By 4.40am the battalion was formed up for the attack. Zero hour was timed for 6am precisely, and so we had an hour and 20 minutes to wait on a typical autumn morning in Belgium, with a thin drizzling rain and a cold breeze. As was expected, the enemy put down his accustomed protective barrage just before dawn, but we suffered no losses on the forming-up tapes.
Our barrage opened at 6am precisely, and we were glad to be up and doing after the long, cold, anxious wait. The enemy was resisting by distributing his forces to a great depth; his forward area was mainly defended by small nests in consolidated shell-holes generally supported by one or more machine-guns or else by larger and stronger posts centring round a concrete pill-box defended by machine-gunners.
The first and second objectives were reported captured at 8.55am; casualties had not been severe, and were all due to machine-gun and rifle fire. Further casualties were suffered from snipers and it was hard on our men that they could not go on and exploit their success. At 6.45pm the enemy was seen advancing, but it was a very half-hearted attempt.

Newspaper Cuttings

Wednesbury Borough News 27th October 1917 and 17th November 1917 (identical articles).
Sergeant William Brown, of 80 Leabrook Road, Wednesbury, who enlisted in the 7th South Staffords, was reported killed in action on October 4th 1917. He was 36 years of age, married, and leaves a widow and four children.
He enlisted in December 1914, and was sent out to the Dardanelles, Egypt, and France. He was wounded in 1916, but returned to France later on, after recovery. He also has two twin brothers, one of whom was killed during in the battle of the Somme, and the other had his foot blown off, and is now in hospital in England.