Lance Corporal Robert Ernest Brown


Robert Ernest Brown was born on 31 May 1894 at 11 Park Avenue, Londonderry, the second of six children of post office sorting clerk William Sproule Brown and his wife Agnes (née Wilson). His mother died following childbirth when he was just eight years old. By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Academy Terrace and Fairman Place, Londonderry, with his father, siblings and an aunt, and working as an apprentice shirt manufacturer.

Brown enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 31 August 1914 (No.1055). On 17 November 1915 he embarked for France with F Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 33rd Division.

In June 1916 F Squadron combined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and its men transferred to the infantry. Like most, Brown was posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – on 20 September, joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. He was issued regimental number 41481 and posted to A Company.

Brown was wounded during the Battle of Cambrai, probably in the fighting for the village of Moeuvres on 22 and 23 November 1917. The wound was not severe and he was able to rejoin the battalion soon after.

Brown was one of the many posted as missing following the battalion's fighting withdrawal from St Quentin to near Amiens from 21 to 28 March 1918. It was later learned that he had been captured, unwounded, on 27 March at Erches, near Roye.

Brown remained a prisoner until the end of the war, held at camps in Giessen and Münster. He was released in the months following the Armistice and returned to the UK. On 31 March 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.