BROWN, William James

No.G/39450, Private, William James BROWN
Aged 19

1st Battalion, The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
Killed in Action on Sunday 3rd December 1917

William James Brown was born in Swaffham Prior on 23rd May 1898(Newmarket Q2-1898 3B:526), baptised St Mary's Swaffham Prior on 19th June 1898, son of James and Jane BROWN (née GILBEY), of Bunbury Farm, Swaffham Prior.

1901 census...Aged 2, he was at The Covey, Swaffham Bulbeck with his grandfather William GILBEY [62] gamekeeper born Saffron Walden, and his grandmother Harriet GILBEY [60] born Saffron Walden. His father James BROWN [37] horsekeeper born Balsham and mother Jane [35] born Saffron Walden were at Bunbury Farm, Swaffham Prior.

1911 census...Aged 12, he was at 28 Alpha Terrace, Trumpington with his widowed grandmother. His parents were at Cadenham Farm, Swaffham Prior.

He enlisted in Cambridge.
"Soldiers Died" has him in 11th battalion, (not possible, the 11th were in Italy) and his number as G/39459 but all other records have 39450. From CWGC original forms it appears he was initially buried near Tyne Cot and died 3rd March, identified by a cross. The date was changed to 2nd when he was re-interred in Dochy Farm, a cemetery that was not started until after the war. More than likely he was initially buried by the Germans. In fact the 1st battalion war diaries show no casualties for the 2nd but two on 3rd of December 1916. The battalion were in support, constructing shelters in the Passchendaele region.

CWGC records are not precise in this case, he was found, identified on a cross, in a sweep of this area below and re-interred in Dochy Farm in early 1920. The proximity of the very large cemetery at Tyne Cot would not necessarily mean he ought to have been buried there. It depended on which cemetery was "open" when the graves were exhumed and concentrated. In any event, Dochy Farm was close by.

data from

photo: Rodney Gibson

William Brown is buried in Dochy Farm New British Cemetery, grave 4:C:24

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details