William Charles Brown

William Charles Brown
Born in St Ives in 1895, William was the second youngest in a family of three boys and two girls. His father, William, was a waterman, working on coal barges on the Great Ouse. The family occupied four rooms at 15 Green Street, St Ives. By 1911 William was employed as a farm labourer, aged 15yrs. Life must have been tough, as indicted by this 1913 Hunts Post article when William's father was summoned to the local court.

William enrolled with the Hunts Cyclists. In August 1914 some of the Battalion formed part of the East Yorkshire Mounted Brigade to undertake coastal patrols, stationed at Withernsea and Filey. It seems William was one of them. There he met Laura Coulson. They were married at Bridlington in 1915.

Soon after William was transferred to the 1st/8th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. They had suffered heavy casualties and saw a large influx of new blood in that year. William took part in the Battle of the Somme from July to November 1916. For five months the British and French armies fought the Germans in a brutal battle of attrition along a fifteen mile front, with one million dead and wounded on both sides.

Battle of the Somme
Some of the 1.5 million shells fired in the lead up to the Battle of the Somme
From October onwards frequent heavy rain turned the ground and roads into rivers of mud. William was less than one week away from surviving one of the bloodiest engagements of WWI, but was killed with three other soldiers when they suffered a direct hit from a German shell on Sunday 12 November 1916. He was aged 21yrs. His death was reported in the Hunts Post on 8 December 1916. He is buried in Martinpuich British Cemetery, France.

Two months before his death Edith was born, in September 1916. It's unlikely he ever saw his daughter.

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Source materials
Click any of the links below to view original source materials.
1901 Census
1911 Census
Commonwealth War Graves Register
Commemorative Certificate

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