Rank or Title
Date of Birth
Date of Death
23 Jul 1917
War time / or Pre War occupation
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
War Memorial Location
Soldier or Civilian
Just ten days after returning from home leave, Military Medal recipient Pte William Henry Brown, S/7023, 9th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, was killed in action in Flanders on July 23rd, 1917. He was aged 26.
Pte Brown, who had turned down a commission to continue his work as a stretcher-bearer, was hit at 4 o'clock in the afternoon by a piece of shrapnel from a shell. Just an hour earlier he had been tending the wounded of his own company.
Comrade L-Cpl G. Somerville wrote to widow Lilian at 28 Park Street West, Luton: "He was engaged in scouting for German planes while the platoon was at work, and Fritz commenced his shelling. He removed himself further down the trench for safety, as he thought, but unfortunately when he stopped a shell came over, and death was instantaneous. He suffered no pain.
"You can imagine how I felt when I sent to his side and found him dead. Willie was loved by all his comrades, down to the poorest Tommy. He was a brilliant stretcher-bearer, and one who knew no fear."
Company officer commanding Capt L. McNicholl said Pte Brown was to be buried in a military cemetery with a cross bearing his name. The Military Medal which had been conferred on him a month earlier was well earned. It had been awarded for bravery and devotion to duty on the field of battle on June 6th.
William Brown had enlisted in the Bedfordshire Regiment at the outbreak of hostilities and later transferred to the Seaforth Highlanders. He was drafted out to France in May 1915, and in July 1916 was wounded in the thigh. Since December 1916 he had been engaged in stretcher-bearing.
Before enlisting, William Brown was employed as a warehouseman by hat manufacturer Alfred Warren & Sons, Bute Street.
He was the son of William Henry and Lizzie Ann Brown, of 9 Brook Street, Luton. On March 27th, 1915, at Luton Parish Church, he had married Ethel Lilian Shepherd, of 28 Park Road West, home of her mother Emma and late father John (died December 20th, 1914).
Pte Brown's Military Medal was presented to his widow by the Mayor of Luton, Councillor Charles Dillingham, at the Winter Assembly Hall in March 1918. Town Clerk William Smith said that on June 5th, 1917, Pte Brown's unit, a pioneer battalion, advanced through a heavy enemy barrage to consolidate a position recently won by assaulting troops. In spite of continuous enemy shelling throughout the night, this most gallant and efficient battalion completed the task to the entire satisfaction of their superior officers, but suffered considerable casualties.