680288 DVR. W. H. BROWN.  R.F.A.

 

I haven’t managed to trace William Henry Brown in the Censuses.  According to SDGW he was born in Lancaster and enlisted in Preston, and according to CWGC he was 25 when he died in 1918, so he was born in 1893.  In 1917, he married Hetty Latham (b. 1896 in Walton Le Dale) and they had a daughter, Elizabeth, who was born on 15 October 1918, just three weeks after William was killed in action.  Hetty lived at 97 Victoria Road, Walton Le Dale.

 

William was presumably in the Territorials before the War as he had an original service number 1353 which was later changed to 680288.  He was posted to “A” Battery of 276 Brigade and landed with 55th Division in France on 30 September 1915.  William must have been granted some home leave at the end of 1917, when he got married, and he would have returned to France to join his Division as they played their part in the defence of the line at Givenchy.

 

55th Division relieved 42nd (East Lancashire) Division in the front line at Givenchy and Festubert on 15 February 1918. Here, it faced numerous strong enemy raids in March. Early April was at first much quieter but this was the quiet before the storm.

 

From the War Diary

9 April 1918 4.15am Enemy opened heavy H.E. and Gas bombardment on all Battery areas, Headquarters, and Wagon Lines.  Batteries opened on “Counter preparation” and later on S.O.S.  Hostile infantry reported attacking, and pressing back our Infantry on the Left.  164th Infantry Brigade still holding GIVENCHY.  Continuous hostile shelling throughout the day.  Enemy infantry at one time reached forward gun of A/276 Battery in GUNNER SIDING, but counter-attacked and driven off.

6.42pm A/276 Bty report all guns destroyed and personnel manning trench in front of position.  Ordered to move personnel to Wagon lines with all material that can be salved.  D/276 Battery moved forward gun back to main position.  Throughout the day information received of enemy concentration.  Batteries opened fire on all occasions, and with the exception of local encounters no further attack on a large scale developed on Group Front.

8.00pm  Information received that 800 prisoners captured to date.

10 April 1918 7.30am FESTUBERT heavily shelled and enemy attacking in neighbourhood of LOISNE.  (The enemy attack continued throughout the day but by) 8.30pm Infantry report enemy attack driven off.  All Batteries ceased fire on S.O.S. lines but continued harassing fire at slow rate.

 

11-14 April The enemy attacked, were repulsed, re-grouped and attacked again, but the ferocity of the attacks slowly diminished.  They make another effort on 18 April but again are repulsed.  On 26 April 164th Infantry Brigade feel confident enough to mount a counter-attack which is initially successful but they are later forced back to their original line.

 

The enemy attack continued until 18 April, when it slackened off then ceased.  On 20 April, the Division re-captured a number of trenches near Givenchy and skirmishes continued until the end of the month but neither side made any gains.

 

During May, the Brigade remained near Givenchy but there were no more attacks and on 27 May they were relieved from the line and withdrew to bivouac at Bois des Dames.  They moved back into the line between 9-12 June and between 13-20 June they supported a number of infantry raids.  Throughout July, August and September they engaged in harassing fire, mainly by night.  Some relatively minor infantry raids were mounted but the action was mainly to disrupt the enemy and prevent any counterattack.  William was killed in action on 24 September 1918.  He was 25 years old.  His body was never recovered.

 

Rank:  Driver

Service No:  680288

Date of Death:  24/09/1918

Age:  25

Regiment/Service:  Royal Field Artillery, “A” Bty, 276th Bde.

Cemetery/memorial reference:   Panel 3 and 4.

Cemetery/Memorial:  VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL

Additional Information:  Husband of Hetty Livesey (formerly Brown), of 99 Victoria Road, Walton-le-Dale, Preston.

 

In 1919, Hetty married Jim Livesey (b. 1897 in Walton Le Dale) and the couple had five children.

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