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David Brown was born on the 25th August 1896, and baptised at the Methodist Chapel in Glenridding on 27th September of that year. His father George Brown was a blacksmith employed at Greenside Mine alongside his brother John. David would have attended Patterdale School alongside his cousin Frank Brown, who was born less than a month earlier, and his siblings Emily (born 1892), Robert (born 1894), Annie (born 1901), although he would have probably started work by the time his youngest sister Mildred (born 1906) started school. We know that once he left school he worked at the Cooperative Store in Glenridding.
David enlisted in the army on 13th September 1914 joining one of Kitchener’s Third New Army units -
The 25th Division was in the front line at Ploegsteert when the enemy launched the Spring Offensive, in April. At this point David was a Lance Corporal in 5th Platoon, B Company of the 8th Borderers, and it seems that right at the start of the German Offensive, on the 10th April 1918, he was taken prisoner by the Germans at Plegsteert. On the 18th May 1918 the Herald reported that his father had been told that his son son was missing. Thankfully for George on the 8th June the Herald was able to report that “Mr George Brown of Low Glenridding has received a postcard, dated 20th April, from his son, Lance Corporal David Brown, Border Regiment, stating that he is a prisoner of war in Germany”. We know from his Prisoner of War Records that he was “Unverwundet.” (Unwounded) at the time of his capture. In many respects David might be considered lucky as his comrades in the 25th Division suffered heavy casualties through April and into May and indeed the 25th Division was all but destroyed during this offensive, with the 8th Borderers being disbanded in July 1918.
David was taken to Friedricksfeld Camp, Bei Wesel, in Germany. This was sixty miles north of Cologne near Wesel and had a capacity for 35,000 prisoners. By all accounts it was not bad (as these things go) -
Lance Corporal David Brown
14728 , 8th Battalion Border Regiment
Born 25th August 1896, High Rake, Glenridding.
Son of George and Mary Lizzie (nee Hetherington) Brown
The 25th Division positions at the end of March 1918 -
We are not sure when David returned home although it appears that the prisoners at Friedricksfeld were released soon after the end of the war. We assume that he returned home to Glenridding at least immediately after the war although it has not been possible so far to find records of him locally, other than a “D Brown” who employed at Greenside Mine in 1921 (where his father still worked). All we do know for sure is that he was commemorated on the Glenridding Village Hall Roll of Honour alongside his brother Robert C Brown, and his cousin Frank Brown who tragically lost his life in the war.
We believe his father continued to work at Greenside until retirement and died on 25th May 1947 aged 79, whilst living at 1 Mill Croft in Glenridding. His brother Robert Brown also served in the war with the Durham Light Infantry and afterwards married and settled in Burnely. We have so far not been able to find out what happened to either his mother or his other siblings, except for Mildred Mary who we know married William Edwin Halliburton, a gardener from Plumpton on 1st September 1948.
If you can add any more details to the story of David and his family then please let us know.
The International Red Cross Card listing David and possibly a sweetheart in Barrow
David’s Father George on the right, with fellow Greenside Blacksmiths brother John (centre) and John Oglethorpe in the 1920s.
The Official German Registration Entry of David’s Capture