As the Centenary of the First World War draws to a close we continue to reflect on our many War Memorials and of the stories each tell.
One of the most poignant memorials in our town lies in the shadow of the Minster entrance arch. The stone marks the graves of two brothers, Frank and John Brown and is a War Memorial to their brother Vincent.
The three brothers were the sons of Charles and Mary Ann Brown and were all educated in Southwell. In 1901 the family were living at 51 Kirlington Road but by 1914 at the outbreak of war their parents were living at 7 Victoria Street, Southwell.
The stone’s inscription remembers Frank, the youngest of the three who died prior to the war aged 18, Vincent and John.
Vincent had joined the Army in 1907 so by the outbreak of war had already been serving as a professional soldier for several years. He embarked to France with the 2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters in September 1914 and was killed in action on 13th September 1916 during the attack at Arrow Head Copse near Guillemont, France during the Battle of the Somme. He was 26 years old and left a widow, Mary (nee. Haywood), who he had married in 1913. He is buried at the Guillemont Road Cemetery at Ginchy, France.
The oldest of the three brothers, John Harry Brown, known as ‘Harry’, worked as an under gardener prior to joining the Royal Scots Fusiliers in 1907. The following year he went with his regiment to India and then on to Pretoria in South Africa. Following his army service John returned to Southwell and was employed as a driver by J. H. Kirkby the grocers and bakers. He reinlisted in January 1915 and having served during the war with the 1st Bn Sherwood Foresters he died in April 1919 from the effects of his wounds received in action and received a military funeral at Southwell Minster. He was 31 and was survived by his widow Ada and their young daughter.
Their father Charles was employed as a house painter but, as a former soldier, reinlisted in April 1915 serving mainly in the home defence. However in 1919, at the time of the death of his last surviving child, he was fighting in the Archangel Campaign in Russia (as part of the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War). Having survived his three children he died on the 23rd February 1925 aged 54. Little is known of their mother Mary Ann however it is thought that she died in Southwell in 1942.
For those of us who pass through the Minster grounds please take time to pause and reflect at their sacrifice 100 years on.