Brown DSO.MC.. Osbert Harold. Captain 11th Suffolks. Died 1st November 1916

Osbert Harold Brown was the second son of Alfred and Anne of Geneva Road, Kingston Upon Thames and was born on 2nd May 1892. After attending Winchester School he obtained a scholarship to Pembroke College, Cambridge. He passed his BSC with Honours and thereafter took the Civil Service Exam, in which he was placed fourth in the whole country. He never took up his post as when war broke out he joined the Rifle Brigade and in October he received a commission in the 11th Suffolks and by November had already been promoted to captain.

There is a great deal written about Captain Brown in the History of the Suffolk Regiment. It could certainly be said that he led men from the Suffolks and other battalions of the 34th Division to the furthest point into the German lines of any other troops from the Division. The history elaborates:

“During the night of the 1st-2nd a message was received from Captain OH Brown of the 11th Battalion that he was in Wood Alleywith a score of Suffolks and a couple of hundred men of other units of the brigade. Owing to their own gallantry and the magnificent example set by Captain Brown, assisted by Lieut. Robson of the 15th Royal Scots, these troops were able to consolidate themselves in Wood Alley, covering the flank of the 21st Division.

It was not until 1 a.m. on the 3rd that a reinforcement of about four hundred of the brigade was collected at Bellevue Farm and sent to Colonel Sir George McCrae, commanding the 16th Royal Scots, who had taken charge of the 34th Division troops in the neigbourhood of Wood Alley and Scots Redoubt. At 2:00a.m. on July 4th the 101st brigade was relieved by the 69th Brigade, marching back to Becourt Wood and Long Valley, in the hills a mile west of Albert.

Major Wright thus describes the return of Captain Brown: “By 8:00 a.m. on the 4th Brown had brought his men back to Becourt Wood. When they had rested a little he marched them on to a camp in Long Valley, in the hills a mile west of Albert. Covered with the grime of the past three days, his torn sleeve revealing the same bandage that had been roughly fixed in No Man’s Land, he rode at their head mounted on Eliza, a half-blind mare, the most obstinate and ungainly of the officers’ chargers. Whenever he turned back to inspect the fours of his column they cheered him loudly.” What finer tribute could be paid to any man?”

He was awarded the DSO for his part in this gallant effort and just a month later he was awarded the Military Cross for his heroic part in the battle for the Intermediate Trench, in which again he and his men succeeded in their task when all others failed:

“Only four companies, two from the 11th Suffolks and two from the 16th Royal Scots were detailed for the assault and only one company, “B” of the 11th Suffolks actually carried it out. Gallantly led and skillfully handled by Captain O.H.Brown, “B” Company captured their objective at the scheduled hour and consolidated and held on to it until ordered to withdraw at the approach of daylight when it was certain that support would not be forthcoming. The withdrawal was successfully conducted under the adroit supervision of Captain Brown, who was among the last to leave the captured position.”

Again the History records his death:

“On November 1st the battalion sustained a heavy loss by the death of Captain O.H. Brown, DSO, MC., who was killed by a stray bullet while visiting his trenches. A gallant and able soldier, and a brilliant scholar, he was buried in Bois Grenier cemetery the following evening, mourned by all who knew him.”

There are a number of cemeteries in Bois Grenier and Captain Brown is in the Brewery Orchard Cemetery there.