Although William was born circa October 1879 in Byker, Newcastle Upon Tyne, he’d moved to Leeds with his family before the age of 12. His father Joseph Brown was a soldier and later a carpet fitter; his mother Alice, nee Hedley, had worked as a domestic servant before marriage.
In his teens William joined the Volunteer Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment. Many of his brothers were clerks but William’s education was noted as ‘2nd class’ [nice!] and perhaps the idea of sitting in an office wasn’t appealing. He must have enjoyed his time in the Regiment as on 10 September 1897, in Halifax, he enlisted with the Royal Engineers and in early 1898 was posted as a sapper.
William was a fairly tall lad of 5’ 8½”, of fair complexion with brown hair and blue eyes. Intriguingly he’s recorded as having scars on both knees.
William was posted to Bermuda, where he arrived in December 1898. His records (found via FindMyPast) show him as receiving a slight injury to his right hand which probably frustrated him an engineer and soldier.
However it wasn’t that which defeated him in November 1902, it was something still feared by millions: typhoid.
We have a family record of his memorial card which was handed down through his brother Michael’s family to my dad, William’s great-nephew. It reads:
In Loving Memory of
William Hindmarsh Brown
(3rd Company, Royal Engineers,)
The beloved son of Joseph and Alice Brown
Who Departed this life, Thursday November 20th, 1902 Aged 23 years
The last post has sounded:
the solder sleeps
Till the night is ended
And the morning breaks
William was interred in one of the cemeteries at St George’s parish in Bermuda, info on these available at http://bermuda-online.org/britishmilitarygravesbda.htm and http://bermuda-online.org/britarmy.htm
© Lynne Black, 17 November 2014
First published: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/william-hindmarsh-brown/