20993 Sergeant Alfred Brown, DCM.
41st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in the London Gazette of 17 April 1918. Awarded the Belgium Croix de Guerre in the London Gazette of 15 April 1918. Awarded the Russian Order of St. George Class 2, in the London Gazette of * * 1916. Brown was born at Weston super Mare, Somerset in 1883 but was living at Padiham, Lancashire at the time he was recalled from the Army Reserve on the 5 August 1914.
The citation for the award of his D.C.M., published in the London Gazette of 17 April 1918 reads, "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. This N.C.O. is a first rate Number 1, is an indefatigable worker, and sets a most gallant example to the men of the battery by his splendid conduct under fire and by his courage and cheerfulness at all times".
Research into the possible award of a bar to his D.C.M. and the award of a Military Medal is on going (both these awards are mentioned in the various newspaper reports which appeared between 1916 and 1919) but cannot be traced in the Medal Index Cards at the National Archives at Kew or the London Gazette.
The Burnley Express of ** June 1915 reported: -
AN ALLY'S HONOUR.
BURNLEY MINER'S BRAVE DEEDS. CLIMBED A MINE SHAFT TO LOCATE GUN.
Corporal Alfred Brown of the Royal field Artillery who's wife and family reside at 36, Scott Street, Cheapside, Burnley, has rendered such excellent service "somewhere on the Continent" that he has been recommended for the award of the Russian Order of St. George, which carries an award of £20 on its presentation. Many gallant deeds performed by him have led up to this recommendeation. One day he led in hte battery horses when the drivers had abandoned them on account of the hot fire. A Quartermaster on another occasion was wounded and lying in a ditch, when Sergeant Brown went to his aid and brought him back to cover. His greatest feat was the sighting of a German gun, which had been playing havoc with them, and they were able to silence it. He found out the position from an observation station at a French mine.
To his wife on June 2nd he wrote and described this station, "You will laugh when I tell you that our observation station is a a pit head! Right up in the gearing of the cages, and that we have to go down the drift and up the shaft to this place. It put me in mind of being at home when I go down. There is plenty of water in these mines. I often thought I would like to look down a French mine and now I have had my wish realised".
Corporal Brown was called up as a reservist at the begining of the war. He had served eight years with the colours of the Royal Field Artillery, and four on the reserve. Previous to the war he was employed as a miner at Barden Colliery.
The Burnley Express of ** January 1918 reported: -
CHEAPSIDE MINER'S SECOND HONOUR.
Official notification appeared on Monday that Sergeant Alfred Brown of the RFA (Padiham) has been awarded the D.C.M. Although the wife of Sergeant Brown who resides at 36, Scott Street, Cheapside, has not received any word from her husband that he has got this honour, it may be presumed that it is the same man. It is not the first honour that he has been awarded in this war. In June 1915 we reported that he had been recommended for the Russian Order of St. George, which carries with it on presentation a sum of £20.
Many gallant deeds performed by him led up to this recommendation. One day he led in hte battery horses when the drivers had abandoned them on account of the hot fire. A Quartermaster on another occasion was wounded and lying in a ditch, when Sergeant Brown went to his aid and brought him back to cover. His greatest feat was the sighting of a German gun, which had been playing havoc with them, and they were able to silence it. He found out the position from an observation position at a French mine.
Sergeant Brown was called up as a reservist at the begining of the war. He had served eight years with the colours of the Royal Field Artillery, and four on the reserve. Previous to the war he was employed as a miner at Barden Colliery.
The Burnley Express of ** ** 1919 reported: -
PADIHAM SERGEANT HONOURED.
Presentations at Grand Theatre.
On Monday evening, at the Grand Theatre, Padiham, an interesting ceremony took place when Sergt A. Brown, R. F. A. of 36, Scott street, Cheapside, who is a Padiham man, was publicly honoured by having pinned upon his breast the decorations which he won by his bravery and devotion to duty. The ceremony took place during an interval in the entertainment by kind permission of the management. The function was attended by members and officials of the Padiham Urban District Council, and the platform was also graced by the presence of Sergt Brown and five of his children.
Councillor D. Russell, chairman of the Council after thanking the proprietors of the Grand Theatre for giving them that opportunity of publicly honouring Sergeant Brown, remarked that after the splendid honours that Sergeant Brown had gained, the Council thought it would be wrong to overlook his gallant conduct. They thought they would let Padiham people see him and at least part of his family.(Applause) Unfortunately Mrs Brown and two of the children were prevented from being present through sickness. Sergeant Brown was the father of seven children (Applause and laughter). He had done his duty at home as well as to his country (Laughter). Sergeant Brown had set a most gallant example by his splendid conduct in the field.(Applause). He was called up as a reservist on the 5th August 1914, being a driver in the Royal Field Artillery. In November 1914, he was raised to full bombardier, in April 1916 he was raised to full corporal, and in September 1916 to sergeant. He was awarded the D.C.M for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on the 23rd August 1917. the details of the recommondation were, " When being shelled and performing the duties of battery sergeant-major, at the risk of his own life he carried away wounded men under very heavy shell fire, and also succeeded in getting the men of his battery to a position of safety. By his splendid courage and coolness he saved a heavy casualty list; then going through the barrage four times to remove gun sights and telephone instruments from destruction and assited to keep up communication to headquarters".
He was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre for "conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in Belgium on the 23rd November, 1917, rescuing a Belgian officer who was severely wounded, at the risk of his own life, carrying him to the British dressing station under very heavy shell fire."
He was awarded the Russian Order of St George
details to be added later!
Alfred Brown was born in 1883 at Weston super Mare, Somerset the son of Thomas and Sarah Brown. On the census of 1891 he was living with his family at 51, Meadow Street, Weston super Mare. By 1901 the family had moved to 2, Waterloo Cottage, Weston super Mare. On the 4 March 1905 Alfred Brown married Mary Barnes at the register office in Exeter, Devon at which time he was described as a Driver in the Royal Field Artillery. Following his discharge from the army circa 1910, he took residence in the Burnley area and commenced working at Barden Pit as a miner.
Alfred Brown's Medal Index Card (WO/372/3) shows that he entered the war zone on the 16 August 1914 and thus qualified for the 1914 Star with bar, British War and Victory Medals. The card also shows that he was awarded the Soldiers War Badge which was awarded to soldiers who were discharged early due to either sickness or wounds (ref: RA/2870). It also records that his British War and Victory Medals were returned to the Medal Office on the 30 June 1922 having been forfeited. His DCM is recorded on WO/372/23.
The 41st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery was comprised of three batteries - the 9th, 16th and 17th - all armed with 18 pounder field pieces. This brigade arrived in France on the 16 August 1914 in support of the 2nd Infantry Division, B.E.F. and continued to serve with them throughout the war.
Thanks are due to Mr. Neil Riley, of Burnley, the great-grandson of Alfred Brown for his help in the research of the above subject.