|2 Nov 2018
Charles Brown was born on 27 August 1894 in Burwell, Cambridgeshire. He was a pupil at the The Cambridge and County School for Boys (now Hills Road Sixth Form College) from 1906 to 1910, .
Charles Brown with his family
The school was founded in 1900 and the headmaster was Reverend C.J.N Child. The school was originally described as a 'Secondary School for Boys preparing for Farming, Market Gardening, Building, Surveying and Business Life generally'.
Charles Brown's original school record card
After leaving the school Charles worked for 18 months in the office of the Ocean Company in Cambridge as an insurance clerk before joining Barclays Bank where his eldest brother Edward worked. Charles' obituary states that he ‘served with the utmost satisfaction at their Oundle, Leicester and Uppingham branches.’ While at the Uppingham branch, Charles took his Preliminary Institute of Bankers Examination; The Journal of the Institute of Bankers in April 1915 and there are reports from October 1915 showing that he had passed.
During this time World War 1 had broken out and many brave men applied to become soldiers and fight for their country. Charles was one of those men, although he was declined the position because he was under the required standard height of 5’ 3”. However, when he learnt that his friend Tom Blackwell had joined the 12th Bantam Battalion of Suffolk, he immediately applied and was accepted. ‘Bantam’ battalions were units formed for shorter men with heights between 4’ 10” and 5’ 3”.
Towards the end of March 1918 the 12th Battalion was moved 40 miles north to the Merville area to be put in reserve behind an 8 mile front between Armentières and Fleurbaix. In the beginning of April the battalion went into line in the Bois Grenier sector and a few days later into billets in Fleurbaix in support. On April 9 at 4.15am, the enemy attacked, a very heavy bombardment being accompanied by gas in exceptional quantities. The battalion held on until half-past four in the afternoon, putting up a magnificent defence which was spoken about by Sir Douglas Haig who said “In this fighting, very gallant service was rendered by 12th Battalion Suffolk Regiment, 40th Division, who held out in Fleurbaix until the evening though heavily attacked on three sides.” Charles was sadly killed in action near Armentières on 10 April 1918 aged 23 and his body was never identified so there is no known grave.
Charles Brown in one of the 89 names on the War Memorial Tablet in the College's main corridor.
He is also commemorated at:
- Flanders on a wall memorial in the Berks Cemetery Extension
- the War Memorial inside St Mary’s, Burwell
- the War Memorial near the Burwell Ex-Service and Social Club, 21 The Causeway, Burwell
- The War Memorial in Ely Cathedral – list as one from Burwell who died in the Great War
- family memorial at St Mary’s Church, Burwell
Information about Charles Brown has kindly been provided by Chris Wells, his great nephew.
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