Brown, Thomas

Thomas Brown, Private 14610, 10th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 30th August 1917 in Belgium, aged 24

 

EARLY LIFE

Thomas Brown was born in Macclesfield in 1893, the son of Hannah and Ralph Brown, a silk dyer.

In 1901, seven year old Thomas was living 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 included three more children: Emily (7), Nelly (5) and Laura (2).

Soon after leaving school, Thomas found employment as an embroiderer at A W Hewetson’s silk mill. In his spare time he enjoyed sports and was a noted amateur boxer.

 

WW1 SERVICE

Thomas enlisted at Macclesfield on 4 September 1914, joining the 10th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. His service records describe him as 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 133 pounds, with a 34 inch chest.

Thomas was sent for training, and was promoted to Lance-Corporal on 1 January 1915 – as was usual, initially without an increase in pay, but with payment from 22 March. However, after overstaying his leave by three days in July 1915, when the battalion was based at Aldershot, Thomas was reduced to the rank of Private.

In September 1915 the battalion departed from Folkestone for France, and over the next two years Thomas participated in engagements on the Somme, at Vimy Ridge, Ypres and Messines. He became ill between May and September 1916 and attended the Field Ambulance Stations several times, ending with a four-day stay between 12 and 16 September 1916 suffering from Trench Fever.

Whilst in France, Thomas won a cup for boxing at Christmas, 1916. In July 1917 he returned home on leave for the first time since his departure at Folkestone in September 1915.

Thomas’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Advertiser on 14 September 1917:

PRIVATE T BROWN – News has been received from one of his pals that Private T Brown… has been killed in action. He joined the colours at the outbreak of the was, and had been in France two years. Five weeks ago he was on his first furlough in Macclesfield… He was a noted local athlete and boxer. He had a brother killed at Suvla Bay, and four others are serving in the Army… Private T Brown was connected with the Macclesfield Large Sunday School.

 

His death was also reported in the Macclesfield Times on 28 September 1917:

KILLED AFTER RETURNING FROM LEAVE – Official notification has been received of the death in action… on August 30th of Pte Tom Brown, Ches Regt, who resided with his sister, Mrs Frodsham, at 27 Wellington St, Macclesfield. Pte Brown was born in Macclesfield twenty-four years ago, and received his education at Duke Street National School, being also connected with the Parish Church. He entered the employ of Mr A W Hewetson shortly after leaving school, and continued in his service until he enlisted in September, 1914. Pte Brown was drafted to France twelve months later. Two months ago the deceased came home on furlough after practically two years’ active service, during which he participated in the engagements on the Somme, at Vimy Ridge, Ypres and Messines. He returned to France on August 7th. Pte Brown was a well-known boxer and took part in tournaments held at the Macclesfield Skating Rink. Whilst in France he won a cup for boxing at Christmas, 1916.

Deceased is the second of four soldier brothers to make the supreme sacrifice, Pte William Brown (26), the eldest, having died of wounds at the Dardanelles on August 26th, 1915. He enlisted in the Cheshires on the outbreak of war, being at that time employed at the Lower Heyes Mill. Another brother, Pte Joseph Brown, Cheshire Regt, is now on ten days’ leave at home. He also enlisted at the commencement of hostilities and went out to the Dardanelles in January, 1915, with the Cheshires, being invalided home in the following November, suffering from dysentry and a slight attack of enteric fever. Upon recovery he was sent out to France in April, 1916. He was slightly wounded in the Somme fighting last year, being struck in the head with a piece of shrapnel. After treatment in a base hospital at Boulogne he returned to the firing line… in civil life he was employed at Messrs Harlow’s foundry, King Edward Street. The remaining brother, Lce-Corpl Jack Brown, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, is twenty-two years of age and at present is engaged upon coastal defence work in England. He went out to France in the early stages of the war and was invalided home with frostbite. The lance-corporal returned to the front in May 1915 and subsequently came over to England as a result of a gunshot wound to the foot.

Mrs Frodsham’s husband, Sergt James Frodsham, is serving in Egypt. He was present at the Suvla Bay landing and the battle of Gaza. Sergt Frodsham is thirty years of age, and before the war was employed as a roadman by the Cheshire County Council.

 

COMMEMORATION

Private Thomas Brown has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. 61 to 63 of the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Thomas Brown, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.

In Macclesfield, Private Thomas Brown is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, and Macclesfield Sunday School war memorials.

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 T. Brown, from sisters and brothers.”

It is not absolutely clear which Macclesfield war memorials bear the name of Private Thomas Brown, as two men named Thomas or Tom Brown enlisted in Macclesfield with the Cheshire Regiment, and both lost their lives. However, it seems likely that this Thomas Brown is the person named on the majority of the memorials, having lived all his life in Macclesfield.

 

NOTES

Brother of William Brown, who served as Private 2576 with the 7th Cheshire Regt and died of wounds at Gallipoli on 24 August 1915; Joseph Brown, who served with the Cheshire Regt, and Jack Brown, who served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Brother-in-law of James Frodsham, who served with the Cheshire Regt.

 

SOURCES

GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website

Lives of the First World War website
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920
Macclesfield Advertiser: 14 September 1917
Macclesfield Times: 28 September 1917, 23 September 1921 (photo supplement)


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