9808 PTE. R. BROWN. LANCS.FUS.
Robert Brown was born in April 1878 and baptised at Farington St Paul’s on 23 April. His father was Henry Brown (b. 1850 in Walton Le Dale). Henry was a famer of 4 acres and their farm was at Doodson Nook (now Doodstone Nook) in Lostock Hall. His mother was Ann Robinson (b. 1853 in Penwortham). Henry and Ann were married in 1875 and they had 12 children: Elizabeth Alice (b. 1876), John (b. 1877), then Robert, Henry (b. 1879), James (b. 1881), Ann (b. 1883), Mary (b. 1884), William (b. 1886), Edward (b. 1887), Albert (b. 1888), May (b. 1891) and finally Fred (b. 1894). Henry died in 1902, but Ann continued to work the farm and was still living there in 1911, with 5 of her adult children. Robert married in 1900 to Margery Bamber (b. 1878 in Farington) and they had two children, though one died, the other being Doris (b. 1903). In 1901, Robert was a railway porter and he and Margery were living at 21 Moss Street, Lostock Hall. In 1911, Margery was living at 3 Railway Terrace, Lostock Hall with her parents and three of her brothers and also the child Doris. Robert is not listed as living at that address and I haven’t traced him in the Census.
Robert enlisted in the Army at Rochdale early on in the War. He enlisted with the Lancashire Fusiliers and was assigned service number 9808. His medal record shows he was posted to various battalions: 11, 13, 3, 9 and finally 20. He landed in France on 25 September 1915 (at which time he was aged 37). It was 11Bn that landed in France that day, then 13 and 3Bns were reserve battalions, 9Bn had been at Gallipoli but went to France in July 1916, and 20Bn landed in France in January 1916. 20Bn came under orders of 104th Brigade in 35th Division. In 1917, 35th Division were engaged in the pursuit of the Germans to the Hindenburg Line and then later in the year were moved to the Ypres Salient.
35th Division was engaged in the attack at Houthulst Forrest, just to the north of Poelcappelle, on 22 October. The map below shows the location of two German pillboxes which held up and eventually stopped the British attack. The conditions for the attack were appalling as heavy rain had reduced the battlefield to a morass of clinging mud. 20Bn had 36 officers and men killed on 22-23 October, including Robert Brown, who was 39 years old.
Robert’s wife Margery died in 1918, leaving their daughter Doris
in the care of her grandfather Richard Bamber.
Service No: 9808
Date of Death: 23/10/1917
Regiment/Service: Lancashire Fusiliers, 20th Bn.
Grave Reference: IX. C. 7.
Cemetery: POELCAPELLE BRITISH CEMETERY