Henry Maurice Brown #6189 was born on 19th. January, 1894 in Cheltenham, England, and died on the 23rd. January, 1985 in London, Ontario. He was interviewed sometime in the 1970’s (I do not have the exact date of the interview). The cassette tape of the interview is in the London Room of the London Public Library, London, Ontario.
“I was working down at Cook Fitzgerald (attestation papers show him as a shoemaker) when war was declared and I just suddenly went. I didn’t even go back to the factory, I just left. I don’t think I gave notice that I was going, just walked off. There was myself, and Ed Barney( #6175) and another chap in the same boarding house and the son (Roy Curtis #6202) of the landlady. Both of them were killed at Ypres. All three of us went up right then and joined. We were living at 308 Ridout Street, across from the old jail. We went up to the London (Dundas Street) Armory, just walked right in there and offered our services. ‘Aye, you’re not very big, said the recruiting sergeant, but come on in.’ I was 5’4” and weighed 130 at the time. ‘How’s your health?’ First Class, I said, perfect condition. They had me up before the medical officer right away and from there I was sworn in and equipped- the same day. I went home that night and packed up what clothes I had.”
Ypres- April 1915
“Our company was to the left. My platoon was led by Chester Butler (1). I followed him. He and I stuck together all the way- in full day light this was, about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. You could just run for so long- if there was any cover you took it. You just had to take your chance. The ridge was pretty near a mile away so we had to do it in leaps and bounds. Every time an officer blew his whistle another group got up and moved ahead for a few yards. As we got close to the trench- we were a little to the left- the trench we were about to occupy, which had been vacated by the French troops during the gas attack, we saw a nice little ridge. So we sat down for a half a minute to catch our breath when a big shell exploded above us and rained shrapnel down on us. One caught me on the right hip and another one in the back. Fortunately the Germans were still using up their old style pre-war ammunition and the shrapnel consisted of round balls- not like the sharp jagged pieces of metal they used later on- and they made a much cleaner wound. So I just dug it out of my leg myself- and was it hot! But Chester- he didn’t have on heavy equipment as I had- busted his kneecap. He said, ‘I think I’ve got it, I don’t think I can move.’ So I said, ‘We’ve got to get out of here Ches. We’d better crawl over and make as small a target as possible’. That’s what we did, we crawled over and I helped yank him into the trench. We were on the left about 25 or 30 feet from the Pilckem Road. There we stayed and before I left this little ridge that thumb I had hold of my rifle at the time a bullet came right across the top of it and flattened it and took that nail clean off. It didn’t hurt, but in a few minutes it was sore. Then I couldn’t handle my rifle. It was a bad day.”
(1).Walter Chester Butler in attestation papers as Lieutenant. Officers were not assigned regimental numbers.
Photo: Library and Archives Canada.