Private, 55569, 198th Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)
Killed in Action, 26 September 1917, near Ypres, Belgium, aged 25
No known grave. Listed on the Tyne Cot Memorial: Panel 154 to 159

(Click to enlarge)

Private William George Brown, 55569, 198th Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), was born in Hartfield in 1892. He lived at Fincham Farm, Cat Street, Hartfield, and in Forest Row and enlisted in Tunbridge Wells. He was killed in action on 26 September 1917 near Ypres, Belgium, aged 25. He has no known grave and is listed on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Tyne Cot Memorial
Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission
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He was the son of Jane Ann Brown. He married Ethel Brown (née Heasman) in the summer of 1914. Ethel Heasman was the sister of George James Heasman, who was killed on 9 October 1917, less than a month after his brother-in-law, also in the Third Battle of Ypres, and also with no known grave. Ethel died in 1956.

William's pre-war occupation was as a builder's clerk. In 1911 he was living with his grandmother, Esther Heasman, aged 70, her son James Heasman, a builder's carter, aged 50, and his mother Jane Ann Brown, aged 41, at Fincham Cottages, Hartfield.

It is very likely that William Brown was killed on the first day of the Battle of Polygon Wood (26 September - 3 October 1917), which took place near Ypres.

The Battle of Polygon Wood, 26 September 1917
Source: Matt McLachlan Battlefield Tours
(Click to enlarge)

The 198th Machine Gun Corps had been transferred to the 174th (2/2nd London) Brigade of the 58th London Division. The 58th Division attacked with one brigade at 5:50am on 26 September. In a thick mist some of the British troops lost direction and were then held up by fire from Dom Trench and a pillbox; after these were captured the advance resumed until stopped at Dear House, Aviatik Farm and Vale House, about 400 yards (370 metres) short of the final objective. A German counter-attack pushed the British back from Aviatik Farm and Dale House and an attempt to regain them failed. Another attack at 6:11p.m. reached Nile on the divisional boundary with the 3rd Division. German troops trickling forward to Riverside and Otto pillboxes were stopped by artillery and machine-gun fire.

His Grave Registration Report Form identifies his wife as Ethel Brown, of "Carrington", Croydon Road, Reigate, Surrey.

Listed on Hartfield war memorial.

Carol O'Driscoll


Battle of Polygon Wood: McCarthy, C. (1995) 'The Third Ypres: Passchendaele, the Day-By-Day Account'. (London: Arms & Armour Press)