Private John McMurtry Brown


John McMurtry Brown was born on 29 June 1896 at 12 Kilronan Street, Belfast, the first of at least four children of Glasgow-born house painter James Brown and his wife Annie (née Johnston). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Ponsonby Avenue, Belfast, with his parents and three siblings.

Brown enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 1 November 1915 (No.1766). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve depot before embarking for France on 18 May 1916, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiments. He fell ill soon after, however, and on 12 June was evacuated to England, where he was admitted to the American Women's War Hospital at Paignton, North Devon.

Following his recovery Brown returned to duty at the Antrim reserve depot.

In November 1916 Brown and around 100 other North Irish Horsemen volunteered to transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles. The formal transfer took place on 7 December (Brown was issued regimental number 40858), and on that day the men embarked for France. There they were posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, joining it on the Somme front on 12 December.

In early 1917 Brown was wounded in the back, possibly during the attack in the sector in front of Bouchavesnes from 4 to 8 March, during which his battalion took significant casualties. Evacuated to the UK on 14 May, he saw no further frontline service during the war.

In June 1918 Brown was transferred to the Royal Defence Corps (No.80433). He remained with that regiment until discharged on 9 May 1919, after which he was granted a pension due to his wounds. He lived in Belfast at 9 Ponsonby Avenue, then at 59 Mountview Street, before emigrating.