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Sgt John Brown 806685 / 158402 - RFA/RGA - Wounded in France - Discharged from RGA in Shoeburyness


FitzyJ
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Hello all,

 

May I introduce John Henry Brown, or commonly on records just John Brown. Left photo must be taken in 1915 I think. Right photo is taken in 1937

 

 

Comparison_BrownJH.png.a761e8d4e55e31f5f28a83ea94c2b112.png

I'm not sure what to call the badge above the Sgt chevrons, a Master Gunnery skill badge?.

 

My question is: I'm trying to identify which unit(s) John was part of after he was wounded in France with the RFA, and before he was medically discharged from the Army. The evidence suggests he was discharged whilst in the RGA, I believe at Shoeburyness.

 

John Brown first served at a Sergeant in 120th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, as part of 38th (Welsh) Division. He was an Irishman (though born in India), living in Wales as a Coal Miner having previously spent 5 years in the Royal Munster Fusiliers.

 

For those with Ancestry accounts, his First World War Service Record is here: Click me. Burnt at the edges, but mostly legible. I have it as a PDF but apparently the file is too large to post. I may try again in a reply to this post.

 

Unlike some others in RFA in the 38th Division, he was not given a W/ prefix. His number in the RFA was 806685. Though his service record front page does have some marks suggesting he may have had a W/ number at one point, maybe W/137.

BROWN_JH_MIC_Star.jpg.bb59e2b064698ac30d61c305387c473d.jpg

 

The BWM and VM rolls show him in "B" Battery, 120 Bde RFA when in Theatre, which correlates to the Service Record. It doesn't mention what his role was in the RGA.

 

As with the rest of 120 Bde, he departed Southampton for Le Havre, France on 24th December 1915. I can then trace their approximate movements from 120 Bde RFA and 38 Div War Diaries (WO/95/2546/2 and WO/95/2542/1 respectively) through to May 1916 when, according to his Particulars of Service and Service Record, he was wounded presumably late April/early May 1916. John's Battery was either around LA COUTURE or LAVENTIE depending on the exact date of getting wounded. His Service record shows that he received a Gun Shot Wound to the head and was sent home, dated 6 May 1916. I know from family stories he was fitted with a metal plate in his head as part of the treatment.

 

GSW.png.f7d56936ed057162706d90267711cb01.png

[Transcription: RGA aaTD(?*) Discharged Para 392XVI KRs) Sergt 24/8/17
Character V.G
Disease GSW Head. Caused by Service: Yes. Aggravated(?) by Service: Yes. (I can't read what is on the right)]

 

His service record shows that he was transferred to 49 (R) Battery, RFA (if I read it right) after the transfer home. I assume this was part of his 're-drilling' after being wounded, as mentioned elsewhere on the forum here. Or, I'm not sure if this is just a 'holding' posting whilst in hospital?
ServRecord2.png.969026c119602efa8695852dcc34f3f4.png

 

My transcription notes are here:

Spoiler

ServRecord2_Notes.png.2d1fb1aa53c3425a15c95544ed1fe4f7.png

His service record (ancestry link above) has two different pages of "Statement of the Services". The other page has some further entries:

 

ServRecord1.png.e820a1ab977dbd5a049543ad8279c2d3.png

Spoiler

ServRecord1_Notes.png.9f54a151a2750a64826e7af9cced0d35.png

 

When they digitised the service record, they scanned this page twice. My transcription image in the spoiler is a combination of the two versions of the scan in the record, cherry picking the best quality version of different parts of the record. That's why some lines don't add up.

 

It could be that the 'D Bty' is when he was posted to 49 (R) Battery?

 

He then gets Married on 27 January 1917 to a Nurse who we understand was working at the hospital where he was treated. Their marriage certificate shows that she works at "The Lodge, Melton, Suffolk". Melton Lodge in Suffolk is a result and I think this might be the Red Cross Hospital in Woodbridge, also known as Foxborough hall, but I'm guessing. 


Marriage.png.83c710329f5e100b48762c904e5def8a.png


On the certificate John is listed as Sergeant RFA (or is it RGA?), living at "The Barracks, Shoeburyness". It's hard to make out, but the service record above shows he was posted to a something "Depot" and what could be the end of "Shoeburyness" underneath it.

 

His discharge papers then use the number 158402 (as also on Medal Index Card and medal rolls), and is in the RGA. He was discharged on 24 Aug 1917. 

BrownJH_Discharge.pdf (I can upload this as images if this doesn't work)

 

In summary:
Attested at Corporal on 26 Nov 1914
Transferred to 120 Bde (assumed) on 1 Apr 1915
Appointed Temp Sgt on 25 Jun 1915
Promoted Sgt
Posted Sgt to "B" Battery, 120 Bde [B/120] on 10 Nov 1915
Confirmed in rank at Sgt on 24 Dec 1915 (Merry Christmas!)
Posted to ??? on 6 May 1916 (this is the date he's listed at 'Home', and is wounded)
Posted to ?? Bde D Bty (?) on 28 Aug 1916 
    Maintains previous rate of pay
Posted to (Tra?)ining Depot (Shoebury?)ness on 4 Jan 1917
Discharged from RGA aaTD (*) on 24 Aug 1917

 

* Is aaTD something to go on? A quick google suggests maybe Australian Artillery Training Depot? Not sure why it's stylised as aaTD opposed to AATD etc. I have yet to find mention of Aussies training at Shoeburyness, but I will keep looking.

 

Can anyone shed any light on what his movements and postings might be after being posted home on 6 May 1916? I have struggled to find information on what units were based at Shoeburyness between 1916 and 1917 and unfortunately the record is either too burnt or the scan didn't capture that edge of the page well enough. I'm hoping some of you may be able to glean something from these records that I can't read or haven't spotted.

 

Other sources:

I have not yet been able to look at Casualty Lists to see what information may be in there, though I doubt it would contain much.

I wouldn't know which hospital to look for, for hospital admission/discharge records. 

Newspapers - As John was an Irishman from Cork, born in India, living in Wales, in serving in a Welsh RFA Bde which was disbanded not long after, I wouldn't know which local newspaper or parish newsletter would feel obliged to mention him when wounded or posted.

 

 

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The FMP version of his record under service number 61760 has a little more of the edges.

He attested into the WAC...Welsh Army Corps?

 

There is also a reference to A Battery 120 bde as well as B Battery 120 bde and Reserve Brigade RFA.

 

He was posted on 04/01/17 to a (?) Training Depot at Shoeburyness. 

 

Against RGA is AATD which makes me think this could be Anti-Aircraft Training Depot.

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3 minutes ago, Alan24 said:

The FMP version of his record under service number 61760 has a little more of the edges.

He attested into the WAC...Welsh Army Corps?

 

There is also a reference to A Battery 120 bde as well as B Battery 120 bde and Reserve Brigade RFA.

 

He was posted on 04/01/17 to a (?) Training Depot at Shoeburyness. 

 

Against RGA is AATD which makes me think this could be Anti-Aircraft Training Depot.

 

Thank you so much. I feel like an absolute dunce, I didn't realise his record was on FMP and I had only found it on Ancestry. The FMP one is so much clearer! I've been struggling with the Ancestry quality one for a few years now...  I assumed the 61760 number was just a record filing number, not a service number! He seems to have quite a few service numbers.

 

It's a bit easier to make out the words Training Depot and Shoeburyness, but the previous part is just off the page. I'm willing to go with Anti-Aircraft Training, though I don't know what experience he had in that being an Arty Gunner. 

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20 minutes ago, FitzyJ said:

It's a bit easier to make out the words Training Depot and Shoeburyness, but the previous part is just off the page. I'm willing to go with Anti-Aircraft Training, though I don't know what experience he had in that being an Arty Gunner. 

WW1 AA guns were manned by artillery men.

Craig

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20 minutes ago, FitzyJ said:

Thank you so much. I feel like an absolute dunce, I didn't realise his record was on FMP and I had only found it on Ancestry. The FMP one is so much clearer! I've been struggling with the Ancestry quality one for a few years now...  I assumed the 61760 number was just a record filing number, not a service number! He seems to have quite a few service numbers.

 

All service records that are on Ancestry should be on FMP. FMP actually show as having slightly more they are better indexed to separate files that were accidentally merged.


Craig

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14 minutes ago, RaySearching said:

In case you have not seen it 

John was awarded the silver war badge no 224 486

 

Link to document on Ancestry

 

Ray

Thank you. Yes thankfully I had found that card and entry. We do not have the medals themselves unfortunately, I do not know what happened to them which is a real shame.

 

 

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Now that we're furnished with a more legible service record, can anyone read the writing from 6th May onwards?

 

The posting for 6th May could be "Res Bde"? I can't tell if there's a number before it.

 

The line below has wonderful writing but I can't work out the number before the word 'Brigade'.. Is it 96th, 16th, 46th, 6th Brigade RFA? Seems to be D Battery as I thought before. None of those appear to be Reserve Brigades or based in UK. I don't think he was sent back out to France as he was already Married by January 1917.

 

ServRecord_Clean.png.17495984df4ad65190befd9a8624a8b0.png

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The number 806685 puts him posted to 296th Brigade RFA in late 1916.

After that it does look like a posting to the Anti-Aircraft Training Depot and a transfer to the RGA.

Edited by David Porter
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11 minutes ago, David Porter said:

The number 806685 puts him posted to 296th Brigade RFA in late 1916

That's wonderful, thank you. 296th seems to fit that posting for 28 Aug 1916, with just the '2' missing from off the page. He is then posted out of there to the Training Depot around the same time that 296 Bde is sent to France, according to LLT here. I don't quite know why the 296th, especially as they are from North Midlands. 

 

Did you get number/unit link from LLT here?: LLT Renumbering 1917. If so, that makes a lot of sense how you found it.

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I assume you have his RMF records from FmP

 

Interestigly he told them he was boen in Cork, but the birth records do show India

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8 hours ago, FitzyJ said:

Left photo must be taken in 1915 I think.

The photo shows him with 2 medal ribbons. Since his WW1 service entitled him to three, dating this photo is difficult!

The 14/15 Star Ribbon was authorised before the British War and Victory Medal Ribbons.

It is possible he earned a campaign medal with his prewar Munster Fusiliers time ? Or perhaps a Jubilee medal? or perhaps both??

I think you have two date possibilities:

1. If the photo is 1915 then he has 2 medals from prewar service with Munster Fusiliers.

2. The photo has him wearing one ribbon for prewar Munster Service and the 14/15 Star Ribbon authorised late 1918-  but by then he'd been discharged from the Army.

 

Thus must be option 1, in which case he should feature on a campaign or Durbar or corronation Roll.

Medal Expert needed to check my line of thought please ??

 

 

8 hours ago, FitzyJ said:

I'm not sure what to call the badge above the Sgt chevrons, a Master Gunnery skill badge?.

 

It is the standard cannon worn above the sergeants stripes by a sergeant in the Royal Artillery

 

8 hours ago, FitzyJ said:

Posted to ??? on 6 May 1916

Posted to 5C Reserve Brigade. If his wounding required evacuation to UK (which GSW Head, causing his early discharge, would seem to indicate) then he would automatically be struck off the 120 Bde Roll and put onto a UK based Depot or Reserve Brigade Roll. So it would suggest actual wounding late April/early May 1916. I did not see his name/number when searching Casualty Lists. I would expect the 61760 number identified by Alan above to be the number quoted but ?

 

 

The War Diary for 120 Bde RFA is here at National Archives, free to download if you register. What was going on around the date of his possible wounding ?- Brigade were suffering from restricted supply of ammunition. War Diary not helpful on possible casualties !

 

 

 

Not terribly helpful I'm afraid. I've posed as many questions as I've answered.

Charlie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by charlie962
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3 minutes ago, corisande said:

Interestigly he told them he was boen in Cork, but the birth records do show India

If that is his record then no medals !!

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15 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

If that is his record then no medals

 

His 1914 RHA attestation shows 5 years previous service in RMF. That service record for RMF is 5 years from 1907 to his discharge in 1912. Which fits. Though as I say, he does claim born in Cork rather than India. Also the age and nok is correct

 

I think it is his RMF record. 

 

(I know nothing about medals, but could he not have got a 1911 Delhi Durbar medal}

Edited by corisande
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7 minutes ago, corisande said:

I assume you have his RMF records from FmP

 

Interestigly he told them he was boen in Cork, but the birth records do show India

Yes thank you, and yes that's his record. There is another one (here) of his brief attestation to RMF Militia (4Bn) a few months prior to joining RMF 'proper' in 2Bn and later 1Bn. The Next of Kin is correct (mother Hannah, father John and Brother Percy) and the address of 98 Street Skibbereen is correct also.

 

He went out to India in Sep 1908 and was sent home in March 1912, again medically discharged (though didn't prevent him re-joining in 1914?). The 1st Bn RMF was serving in the North West Frontier around Rawalpindi/Peshwara according to a web source I found once, but no longer exists.

 

He was definitely born in India, at Ranikhet, whilst his father (also John Brown) was serving with 2Bn RMF (no 1118 and no 1479). However, he does put himself down as born in Skibbereen in a few records, which is quite annoying when researching him. The family didn't move to Skibbereen until after 1901 according to the Census. I assume it was just easier for him to say Skibbereen than India sometimes...

 

 

6 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

The photo shows him with 2 medal ribbons. Since his WW1 service entitled him to three, dating this photo is difficult!

The 14/15 Star Ribbon was authorised before the British War and Victory Medal Ribbons.

It is possible he earned a campaign medal with his prewar Munster Fusiliers time ? Or perhaps a Jubilee medal? or perhaps both??

I think you have two date possibilities:

1. If the photo is 1915 then he has 2 medals from prewar service with Munster Fusiliers.

2. The photo has him wearing one ribbon for prewar Munster Service and the 14/15 Star Ribbon authorised late 1918-  but by then he'd been discharged from the Army.

 

Thus must be option 1, in which case he should feature on a campaign or Durbar or corronation Roll.

Medal Expert needed to check my line of thought please ??

 

That's helpful thank you. I might have been too hasty in assuming it's 1915, as it actually could have been at any time from then until discharge (or even after if he kept his uniform). I made that assumption as he didn't look wounded but had Sergeant stripes. However, as you point out for his time in RMF:

 

3 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

If that is his record then no medals !!

he doesn't appear to have been awarded any medals for his time in RMF (as far as I can tell). So I don't have any suggestions to what those ribbons might be unfortunately.

If the photo was taken after 1915, would that be too few ribbons for BWM/VM/14-15 Star?

 

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A little treat for you.

image.png.306dff62ad0409f2dca4537ebe617085.png

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1 minute ago, museumtom said:

A little treat for you.

image.png.306dff62ad0409f2dca4537ebe617085.png

 

I could marry you. Where on Earth did you find this and how did you get it so quickly??! Do you know the name of the publication and date?

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Happy to help. When I come across pictures in the Irish papers I usually save them.

image.png.0d1f10197cc955fdc89fad521dfbcdc9.png

Edited by museumtom
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Just now, museumtom said:

Happy to help.

image.png.0d1f10197cc955fdc89fad521dfbcdc9.png

 

Thank you. I signed up to Irish News Archives only a few hours ago, so this is perfect timing!

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image.png.d847bc9065f0bc2ff89fd6edd0de698c.pngA bigger image.

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Excellent find- answers many questions. Photo is same as that in the first post.Thus no later than July 1916. What are those medal ribbons then ?

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3 minutes ago, museumtom said:

image.png.d847bc9065f0bc2ff89fd6edd0de698c.pngA bigger image.

Found it now, 22 July 1916 in the Skibbereen Eagle. Thank you so so much!

 

It has also given me a clue to what happened to John's brother Percy, who is named as Pierce in this article. It says he's with the Leinsters (I assume this is RMF as John Brown was with RMF and this article refers to them as Leinsters). We have had no idea what happened to Percy but with this I can maybe start to narrow it down!

 

This Military Cross award to Captain Oakfield must have a few references I can dig out, in Gazette etc. or other news articles.

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19160816-Brown_JH_Newspaper_SkibEagle.png.5a639c8f5b7324e9ca48f633ebe9ce78.png

 

And another one, from 16 Aug 1916. I didn't realise he went back to the Front, as mentioned in both articles. 

 

And now I have a Military Medal to look up! Although that wasn't on his MIC

 

I'm aware that there used to be a newspaper clipping that someone in the family had of the Mother, Hannah, waving John and Percy off as they returned to the front. With a similar caption, "Mrs Brown of 98 Street waves goodbye to her sons as they return to the front". It is starting to make sense now

 

Imagine a man trying to recruit you who had been hospitalised for a few months and lost use of fingers in his left hand...! Hardly a great advert

Edited by FitzyJ
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1 hour ago, museumtom said:

image.png.986762e423f299e468040c72e2cbaf16.png

image.png.e8bdbdb22866ef497fda8f0a187c7fa5.png

 

Thanks @museumtom,  this is great.

 

I've now found several references to the family, all in the Skibbereen Eagle, and one unfortunate entry in the Southern Star, including more details of the brother Percy Brown, of whom we had no record before, but can now trace to Leinster Regiment, possibly 2nd Leinsters, D Company, Service Number 9450 (all TBC)

 

Skibbereen Eagle 19 June 1915: Photo of Percy Brown, who had been recruiting in Skibbereen. Cap Badge looks Leinsters

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Southern Star 3 July 1915: Percy Brown injured (shot?) himself in the fingers by accident whilst hunting...

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19150703-BROWN_PG_NewsSouthStar.png.694b235d56a89e6ae529bab9e60a041d.png

Skibbereen Eagle 17 July 1915: Mention of Percy, John and their father John, late of RMF. This also confirmed a suspected Brother in Law, Martin Carroll, also of the Leinsters.

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19150717-Browns_JH_PG.png.0fdf4c8d47257ab30ee3a4ad21bf7431.png

Skibbereen Eagle 25 September 1915: Percy's home again

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19150925-Brown_PG_News_SkibEagle.png.d27edafc225cde3a7369769ed27ae3b2.png

Skibbereen Eagle 25 December 1915: L-Cpl Percy/Pierce Brown Still at home, or returned home yet again

Spoiler

19151225-Brown_PG-News_SkibEagle.png.bfb3edeb3740859b7c030b3ce323bd17.png

Skibbereen Eagle 22 April 1916: A long, slightly rambly letter, by Percy Brown of 2nd Leinsters

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19160422-Brown_PG_maybe_Letter.png.8cfe137570796cab6297fdb94caf02f8.png

Skibbereen Eagle 13 May 1916: Percy Brown wounded yet again in France

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19160513-Brown_PG_News_SkibEagle.png.fbdb5bea5732664816deae5cbb97673f.png

Skibbereen Eagle 22 July 1916: John Brown photo and narrative (photo is above by museumtom)

Skibbereen Eagle 29 July 1916: Percy Brown, back at Skibbereen on furlough recovering from wounds

Spoiler

19160729-Brown_PG-News_SkibEagle.png.3b3764c9f6ff7bbb170c4bcf8ce484b1.png

Skibbereen Eagle 19 August 1916: Sgt John Brown being sent back out to the front. Apparently promoted Sergeant-Major (not in service record?) and awarded Military Medal (not on MIC as far as I can tell..?) (photo above by me)

 

The references to Leinsters has allowed me to find a P Brown in ForcesWarRecords (link) from a casualty list, with a possible service number. So that's something for me to go on for now. 

 

 

Any thoughts that maybe the paper was mistaken on Sgt John Brown being promoted to Sergeant-Major and being awarded the MM? I can't find reference to him being given the MM in any MIC or Gazette. And his service record posted at the start doesn't mention a Sgt-Major promotion I don't believe.

It's definitely the right Sgt John Brown as they name the right address for Mrs Brown as '98 Street, Skibbereen.

 

 

 

Edited by FitzyJ
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