Brown, James Wilson (No. 238859)

Brown, James Wilson (Jim)

Gunner

No. 238859, Royal Field Artillery formerly,

Private, No. 17323 Royal Irish Rifles

Died on Thursday, 4 April 1918 (aged 25)

Commemorated:

Bangor and District War Memorial

Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque

Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum

Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s)

BIOGRAPHY

On page 10 in the Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum it is recorded that Gunner James Brown (No. 238859) Royal Field Artillery died in France on 4 April 1918.  His address is recorded as 22 Church Street, Bangor.

Research is ongoing into the fact that, in some other records, Gunner Jack Agnew who served with the Royal Field Artillery is recorded as having the same number (No. 238859).

James Wilson Brown was born on 7 July 1892 in Hibernia Street, Holywood and he was the second son of Matthew and Eliza Jane (Lizzie) Brown (nee Wilson) who were married on 2 November 1887 in Dundonald Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Elizabeth’s).  Matthew Brown, a labourer from Dundonald, was a son of James Brown, a labourer.  Lizzie Wilson, a servant from Dundonald, was a daughter of David Wilson, a servant.

Matthew Brown worked as an agricultural labourer and he and Eliza Jane had four children:

Alfred (born 6 October 1888 in Ballymachan)

James Wilson (born 7 July 1892 in Hibernia Street, Holywood)

Matthew (born 15 February 1895 in Ballycloughan)

Adelaide (born 3 February 1900 in Ballyvernon)

The Brown family lived in Ballymachan; Hibernia Street, Holywood; Ballycloughan; Ballyvernon and in 1901 they were living in the townland of Craigavad, Holywood.

Anne Jane Wilson, Eliza Jane’s widowed mother, lived with them.

James Wilson Brown was 16 when his father, Matthew Brown, died of influenza in Church Street, Bangor on 27 August 1908 (aged 40)

After she was widowed, Eliza Jane (Lizzie) Brown worked as a charwoman and the Brown family lived at 22 Church Street, Bangor.

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War James Wilson Brown worked as a gardener’s labourer.

During the Great War, according to his Medal Index Card, James Wilson Brown served as a Private with the Royal Irish Rifles (No. 17323) and then as a Gunner with the Royal Field Artillery (No. 238859).

According to a newspaper report in the 7 September 1917 edition of the County Down Spectator, James Wilson Brown was severely wounded on 1 July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme and one of his brothers was seriously wounded on 16 August 1917.

James Wilson Brown’s brother  Matthew was 17 when he joined the Royal Navy on 12 September 1912 (he declared that he was 18 and that his date of birth was 15 February 1894).  It was noted that he was 5 feet 7½ inches tall with brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion.  He had scars on the left side of his chin and on his right buttock.  Two months later, on 14 November 1912, his mother paid £10 to ‘buy him out’ of the Navy.

Gunner James Wilson Brown (No. 238859) is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial; on the Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque; in the Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum and in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s).