Roy Brown – less unknown than first thought

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Roy Brown, Private 15/106, 1st Leeds Pals

Photo courtesy of York Army Museum

Very little is known about Roy Brown, and very little documentation has survived.  Even the photo taken of him in prison camp is incorrectly labelled as ‘Reg Brown’. (York Army Museum).  Fortunately his POW records are more forthcoming. (Prisoners of the First World War).

Roy was born in Knaresborough on 3rd May 1895 so when the war started he was 19, and he obviously wasted no time in volunteering, having the number 106, meaning that he joined possibly on the first day of recruiting.  On the list of volunteers his address is given as 2 Seaforth Avenue, Harehills, the same as was given on his POW forms in 1917 for his mother.  This address was confirmed by the 1918 Absent Voters List, which also showed William and Emma Brown at the same address. (Leeds City Library)  It was now possible to find them on the census.

William Brown married Emma Atkinson in Knaresborough in 1889.  They had eight children, one of whom did not survive, all born in Knaresborough, where they were living in the High Street.  The eldest was Francis.  Next came Roy, though on the censuses he is given as Roydon, followed by Gordon, Alma, Dorothy, Harold and Geoffrey.  In 1911 Roy was working, like his father, as a law clerk, and the family was living in Seaforth Avenue. (Find My Past)

Having joined Roy was posted to D Company, but no specific job is indicated.  He would presumably have gone to Colsterdale for his training, then Ripon and Fovant, before sailing for Egypt.  His Medal Card shows that he landed on 6th December 1915. (Ancestry).  In March the battalion sailed back to France to be ready for the Big Push.  As a private Roy would get little or no specific mention in the records.  We don’t know if he took part in the 1st July attack on the Somme, but there’s no reason to suppose that he didn’t.  He was certainly part of the Pals’ attack on 3rd May 1917 during the Battle of Arras, because he was captured, unwounded, at Gavrelle.  Initially he was moved round from one camp to another, being in Dülmen on 23rd June, Burgsteinfurt on 16th July, Limburg on 11th August and Münster on 8th November 1917.  There he appears to have stayed, for the next twelve months, until the war ended.

He must have been released and repatriated fairly quickly as he was back in England to be transferred to the Reserves on 13th March 1919.

He was subsequently awarded the 1915 Star, for his service in Egypt, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. (Ancestry).

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.
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