Harold Brown, Corporal 59708, 200th Siege Bty, Royal Garrison Artillery
Died of wounds 23rd April 1917 in France, aged 25
Harold Brown was born in Tytherington, Macclesfield on 29th March 1892 and baptised at Hurdsfield Holy Trinity Church on 1st May 1892, the son of Rachel and Frederick Brown, a machine wood sawyer and joiner.
In 1895 Harold was admitted to St John’s Church of England School; at that time the family lived at 7 Brown Street. By 1901 the family had moved, and 9 year old Harold was living at 23 Boden Street with his parents and younger brothers Clarence Frederick (6) and Leonard (2).
By 1906 Harold had left school and was working as an apprentice; he enrolled with Macclesfield Technical School to further his education. Five years later, in 1911, the family was still living at 23 Boden Street and Harold was working as an apprentice overlooker with a silk manufacturer; his father died in August that year.
Harold enlisted in the Army in Macclesfield on 25th October 1915 while still living with his parents at 23 Boden Street. His service records describe him as being 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a 33 inch chest; at the time he was working as a power loom overlooker. Harold remained in England undergoing various training courses for just over a year, gaining a first class pass in Signalling and Telephony at Shoreham-by-Sea near Brighton on 10 August 1916. During this training period he returned to Macclesfield to marry Florence Arrowsmith at St Michael’s Church on 6th May 1916; the couple set up home at 7 Slater St, Macclesfield. Florence later moved to 8 Ryle Street, Macclesfield.
Harold was drafted out to France, leaving Southampton on 2nd November 1916 and arriving at Le Havre the following day. In February he spent a month at the 1st Army Signal School, qualifying as an assistant instructor, and was promoted to corporal on 21st March 1917. It is not known how Harold was wounded on 23rd April 1917, but he died of his wounds the same day at the 18th Field Ambulance, in France.
On 31st August 1917 Harold’s personal effects were sent to his wife Florence, who by this time was living at 87 Ryles Park Road. These included a letter case, letters, photos, a pipe, a metal mirror, his signalling certificate, correspondence, a writing pad, tobacco pouch, a razor, a shaving stick, six handkerchiefs, a soap tin and soap.
Corporal Harold Brown is buried in grave ref. I. O. 52. of the Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe, France. His wife asked for the words SLEEP SWEETLY GOD KNOWS BEST to be added to his headstone. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Corporal Harold Brown.
In Macclesfield, Corporal Harold Brown is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church, Christ Church, and Macclesfield Sunday School war memorials, and on St John’s Church Roll of Honour. He is also remembered on his parents’ gravestone in Macclesfield cemetery, grave ref. X 15857: ALSO CPL. HAROLD BROWN, KILLED IN ACTION ON APRIL 22ND 1917 IN FRANCE AGED 25 YEARS.
As with all the Macclesfield casualties, an elaborately decorated memorial scroll was sent to the family. The image below is reproduced by kind permission of Mr G Bancroft.
Brother of 312293 Lance-Corporal Leonard Brown, who served with the ASC as a clerk at Bedford, and of 324061 Sapper Clarence Frederick Brown, who served with the R.O.T.D. Royal Engineers (Railway Operations). Both are believed to have survived the war.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 25 May 1917, 23 September 1921 (photo supplement)
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers: Holy Trinity Church, Hurdsfield, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
National School Admission Registers and Log-books: St John’s Church of England School, Macclesfield Technical School
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920
Family History Society of Cheshire: Macclesfield Area Monumental Inscriptions CD