William Brown, Private 2576, 1/7th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Died of wounds 24th August 1915 at sea off Gallipoli, Turkey
William Brown was born in 1890 at Macclesfield, the son of Hannah and Ralph Brown, a silk dyer, of 8 Old Meadow, Macclesfield.
In the 1901 census, eleven year old William was at 8 Prospect Buildings with his mother and siblings Esther (14), Alice (13), Joseph (9), Thomas (7), John William (5), Annie (3), Sarah (1) and baby Ralph (9 months). By 1911 Ralph (senior) had died, the family had moved a short distance to 2 Prospect Buildings, and by then included three more children: Emily (7), Nelly (5) and Laura (2).
William was employed as a cotton weaver by the Globe Spinning Company, Lower Heyes Mill. He was a good footballer and played with the Lower Heyes and St. Alban’s teams.
In spring 1912 William married Laura Lawson, and their daughter, Margaret, was born towards the end of 1913. In 1917, two years after William’s death, his widow married William Norbury at St Peter’s Church, Macclesfield.
William enlisted at Macclesfield in November 1914, joining the 7th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment, and following a period of training in various locations in the south of England, the 7th Cheshires, as part of 159th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division, received orders to equip for service in an undisclosed location in the Mediterranean. In July 1915 they sailed from Devonport to Alexandria in Egypt, then on to the island of Lemnos on the 4th August.
On the evening of 8th August, the Battalion arrived off the coast of Gallipoli and the following day landed at “C” Beach, Suvla Bay. Having landed, they came under shell fire at about 8.30am and so moved north along the edge of the bay; they then received orders to attack in the direction of a dip in the hills behind Anafarta Saghir.
At 8am on 10th August the Battalion was ordered to attack Hill 70. This was unsuccessful and the Battalion suffered severe losses. A second unsuccesssful attack took place at 5pm.
The following day at 2.30pm the Brigade moved north, but the 7th Cheshires and 4th Welsh Regiments on the left were under attack so had to pull back. The 7th Cheshires remained in this position in trenches for several days.
It is not known when William was badly wounded, but he died of his wounds on the hospital ship HMHS Arcadian in the Mediterranean sea on 24th August 1915, aged 25 years. It is assumed that he was buried at sea.
His death was announced in the Macclesfield Times of 17th September 1915:
DEATH FROM WOUNDS – ELDEST OF FOUR SOLDIER BROTHERS
Official notification was received by Mrs Brown, 25 Pierce Street, on Saturday that her husband, Private William Brown, 1/7th Cheshires, died from wounds on August 24th.
Private Brown was 24 years of age, and the eldest of four brothers who have enlisted since the outbreak of war. Private Joseph Brown is serving with the 8th Cheshires in the Dardanelles; Private Thomas Brown is attached to the 9th Cheshires and expects to go to France very shortly; and Private John Brown is in the Welsh Fusiliers. Mrs William Brown is the daughter of the late Sergt. Harry Lawson, who was for many years a member of the V.B.C.R., and was accidentally shot at the Rulow Range about eleven years ago during target practise.
The last letter of the deceased from the Dardanelles was received only an hour or two before the notification of his death. The letter is dated August 18th, and in it the deceased stated: “I am still in the trenches, and we have been in close on a fortnight now. I don’t know when we shall be relieved. I have seen some awful sights out here. It is worse than France. It is so hot, and dangerous to go for water, because someone gets killed nearly every day whilst they are drawing it. The place is crowded with snipers, and you cannot see them, and they pop the men off as they are going to the well. I cannot tell you much about our Regiment, but I can guess how the old town will feel when they see the papers. I am pleased to say that our officers are about the best men on the battlefield. They have done splendidly, and all our men are so proud of them. They rough it the same as we do. You would not know us if you could see us, as we are such dirty-looking beggars for want of a shave; but we shall have a good scrub up all round when we get to the base.”
Private William Brown has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel ref. 75 to 77 of the Helles Memorial in Turkey. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private William Brown, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
The floral tributes laid when the Macclesfield Park Green War Memorial was unveiled on 21st September 1921 included one with the words “In loving memory of Private W. Brown, from his daughter Margaret.”
Brother of Joseph Brown who served with the 8th Cheshire Regiment; Thomas Brown who served with the 9th Cheshire Regiment and was killed in action in Belgium on 30th August 1917; and John Brown who served as Corporal 11704 with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 17th September 1915, 23 September 1921 (photo supplement)