Private Robert Browne


Robert Browne (or Brown) was born on 7 December 1894 at Ballybay, County Monaghan, the ninth of ten children of farm labourer James Browne and his wife Sarah (née Duffy). He grew up with his family at Corkeeran, Ballybay, and by the time of the 1911 Census was living at nearby Losset, Lisnaveane and working as a farm servant.

Browne enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 1 March 1915 (No.1458). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France on 17 November 1915 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 were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Browne, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. Browne was issued regimental number 41210 and posted to D Company.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

Browne was one of the many posted as missing following the 9th (NIH) Battalion's fighting withdrawal from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive. It was later learned that he had been captured, unwounded, on 27 March at Erches, near Roye, when much of the battalion had been overwhelmed by the fast-moving German advance. He remained a prisoner until the end of the war, held at camps in Giessen and Limburg.

Following his repatriation, on 26 March 1919 Browne was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

He was probably the Robert Browne, labourer, who died at Corkeeran on 1 March 1950, aged 54.