Brown, John Sidney: Service No. 124740

Source:Tweet from @kleb79 about her relative. This is her Great Grandfather.

Kara @kleb79  Jul 9

@CWGC Great Grandpa John Sidney Brown, CEF 18th Battalion, KIA Battle of the Somme – September 1916. Buried?


Digitized Service Record


Brother, Brown, Jacob Lavern: Service no. 124733, also served with the 18th Battalion.

Canadian Legion Military Service Recognition Book via David Archer from Facebook.
Petrolia Contribution to Canadian Overseas Contingent. 18th and 34th Batt. and C.M.R. 7th. Robson Photo. Circa Fall 1914. Contributed by family member. Private Brown is the man on the extreme right front row with “x” on his image.
John Sidney Brown is believed to be the man first on left. Photo Circa 1910-1914. Source: Via his Grand Daughter from the 18th Battalion Facebook Group.
John Sidney Brown at his barbershop, Watford, Ontario. Photo Circa 1910-1914. Source: Via his Grand Daughter from the 18th Battalion Facebook Group.

The Battle of Courcellete makes not a mention on the date of the war diary entry, yet is was a major battle and shed the blood of Canadian soldiers such as Pte. Brown.

As the image below shows (see scan from the war diary later below) this battle, the men, and their actions of the 18th Battalion were not well represent by the diarist(s) of the war diary at this time. Small compensation for the Brown family and the other 1003 Canadian soldiers killed on this date. Of those 93, almost 10% were members of the 18th Battalion.

September 15 1916

John Sidney Brown, of Watford, Ontario has no known grave but for an inscription on the Vimy Memorial. The war diary of the 18th Battalion indicates that on the night of September 14th, 1916 there was an attack on the German lines with a 1200 yard penetration. The Battalion was located near Albert, France on the Somme battlefield at a location commonly referred to as “The Brickfields” The war diary makes no mention of the soldiers killed or wounded on this date and given the low number of pages and the brevity of the entries the person(s) responsible kept a very basic record of the action on one of the deadliest fronts in the Great War.

Brickfields near Albert, France.
Brickfields near Albert, France.

Pte. Brown made out a will (see Service Record) on July 22nd, 1916 leaving “his property and effects” to his wife, Henrietta M. Brown. Sadly, the will took legal affect on the date of his death. I wonder what property and personal effects his war widow received?

Detail of Albert, Somme. Note the label "Brickworks" to the north of town. Probable locale of the Brickfield.
Detail of Albert, Somme. Note the label “Brickworks” to the north of town. Probable locale of the Brickfield.

Service Record (PDF)

Details from Canadian Great War Project:

Son of Jacob Daniel Brown (1863-1951) and Anna Christina Brown (nee Smith, 1863-1955); older brother of Jacob Lavern Brown (Service No. 1234733); husband of Henrietta Maria ‘Hattie’ Brown (nee Williams) married May 10, 1911.

John S Brown married Henrietta M Williams on 10 May 1911 at Watford, Lambton County, Ontario. John S Brown was a married 28 year old Barber when he joined the 70th Overseas Battalion in London Ontario on 9 April 1916. John had a year of Militia Service with the 27th Lambton Regiment (St Clair Borderers) with Headquarters in Sarnia Ontario. The 70th Battalion was authorized on 15 Aug 1915 and its Headquarters were in London Ontario where John joined in 1916. The 70th recruited from Essex, Kent, Lambton, and Middlesex counties. Pte Brown sailed for England on 5 My 1916 on the SS Lapland and his 70th Battalion was absorbed by the 39th Battalion on 6 July 1916. On 29 July 1916 Pte Brown was transferred to the 18th Battalion (Western Ontario) in the field. The 18th Battalion headquartered in London Ontario was authorized on 7 Nov 1914 and had been in France since 15 Sept 1915. 28 year old Pte John Sidney Brown was killed in Action 15 Sept 1916 as part of the 18th Battalion (now a Regiment), 4th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division in France during the Battle of Courcelette (called The 1 July to 18 Nov 1916 Battle of the Somme) as described below.

John Sidney Brown (Sid) was killed at the Battle of Courcelette when the 18 Bn attacked Sugar trench just out side the ruined town. 124733 Jacob Lavern (Vern) Brown, Sid’s brother was in the same attack and they went over at the same time, Vern survived the war. There is a short letter to their mother published in the Watford Guide- Advocate of October 13, 1916. Sid was survived by his wife Henrietta and a son, (Francis Allan Brown) and an older daughter named Bernice Natalie Brown.

Sid’s medals were lost since they were signed for by his wife in 1921. Sid’s name is seen on the Vimy Memorial since no trace of him was ever found. 124733 Jacob Lavern (Vern) Brown, his brother searched for him at aid stations and around the battlefield hoping to find him alive but nothing was ever found of him after the morning of the 15 Sept, 1916. He was first listed as missing, then listed as killed in action a short time later. Official records list him KIA.

Summary of Service[i] for Private John Sidney Brown, reg. no. 124740.

December 6, 1888BornBorn this date at Watford, Ontario, Canada.
April 9, 1916EnlistsEnlists at London, Ontario with the 70th Overseas Battalion. He is a barber married to Henrietta Brown listed as his next-of-kin. He has prior military experience showing service with the 27th Regiment for 1-year. Standing 5’6.5” tall he has a fair complexion, brown eyes, and dark hair. He is Presbyterian. He has a chest expansion of 5 inches with a chest girth of 30 inches. He weighs 125 lbs. At 28-years old he is above average in age for enlisting.
April 1916Assigns PayAssigns $15.00 per month to his wife, Mrs. Henrietta Brown.
April 26, 1916EmbarksEmbarks for England aboard the S.S. Lapland at Halifax, Nova Scotia.
May 5, 1916ArrivesArrives England aboard the S.S. Lapland.
July 6, 1916TransferredTransferred to the 39th Battalion, Shorncliffe. TOS at West Sandling
July 22, 1916WillSubmits a will designating all his property and effects to his wife.
July 28, 1916SOSSOS 39th Battalion to reinforce the 18th Battalion.
July 29, 1916TOSTOS 18th Battalion in the field.
September 15, 1916Killed in ActionKilled in Action at the Battle of the Somme during the Battle of Fler-Courcelette. His Circumstances of Death Card relates: “Killed in Action” This soldier was killed by an enemy shell during the advance and capture of COURCELETTE.   The Battalion War Diary relates for the entry for that day, “Position as yesterday. Battalion holding ground gained.”[ii]
September 15, 1916MemorializedHis body, not being found or identified, necessitates his memorialization at the Vimy Memorial. He is one of the 202 members of the 18th Battalion to have their names etched in its stone.
1921Memorial Cross DespatchedMemorial Cross Serial No. 756733 despatched to his mother, Mrs. Christina Brown, Watford, Ontario.
May 23, 1921Scroll DespatchedScroll No. Z44634 despatched to his wife, Mrs. Henrietta Brown of Watford, Ontario.
December 1, 1921Plaque DespatchedPlaque No. P18885 despatched to his wife, Mrs. Henrietta Brown of Watford, Ontario.

Acronyms and Explanations

AWLAbsent Without Leave: Generally, a soldier would be deducted 1-days pay for every day absent. In some cases, the soldier would be confined to barracks. Sometimes it was a combination of both.
CAMCCanadian Army Medical Corp
CBConfined to Barracks: a punishment for minor infractions.
CCHCasualty Clearing Hospital
CCRCanadian Corps Reserve Camp
CFACanadian Field Ambulance
DRSDivisional Rest Station
GSWGun Shot Wound – this was a generic term for all projectile penetrating wounds.
In the FieldThis term relates to a soldier arriving at an active-duty unit after transporting from England, to France, and then to his duty assignment. The routing varied from soldier to soldier and could take 2-3 days to several months.
MDMilitary District
PUOPyrexia of Unknown Origin
SOSStruck Off Strength
TOSTaken On Strength

[i] The Summary of Service for this soldier is meant as just that, a summary of his service. It is not intended to be an exhaustive biographical relation of his life or his war service. Some information may be deliberately suppressed by the author out of sensitivity to the soldier. Readers are encouraged to reference the actual service records available at the Library and Archives Canada in PDF format if they wish to learn more about this soldier. Such additional information (i.e. hyperlinks etc.) are for informational purpose only and no claim to verification or accuracy is made by the author of this summary.

[ii] The brevity of this entry is not typical. The entire War Diary entries from September 1916 to December 1916 for the 18th Battalion can be noted for their brevity and sparse detail.

“Killed in Action” This Soldier was killed by an enemy shell during the advance and capture of COURCELETTE.

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