Joseph & William "Laddie" Brown

The family of William and Joseph were one of two families named Brown who lived on Main Street (another family Brown were in the New Buildings). All the men of this family worked at Wolverton Railway Carriage Works. The father, who worked in the timber store, was also called William, which may be why his oldest son William was usually called “Laddie”. The mother was called Margaret, and there was a younger sister called Catherine.

William “Laddie” worked as a gas fitter at the Works, and was a real character – and local football hero. He was 29 at the start of WW1.

Joseph was only 20 when he enlisted at the recruiting office at Wolverton. He worked as a bolt maker at the Works and later in the Wolverton Social Working Men’s Club.

PTE. JOSEPH BROWN of Cosgrove, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry died of his wounds in France.

(later reports indicate that he was wounded at Hooge in Flanders)

Wolverton Express October  15th 1915

MEMORIAL SERVICE. The Parish Church was on Sunday evening crowded with a congregation who came to pay the last respects due to the dead, the occasion being a memorial service for Pte. Joseph Brown, Oxford & Bucks L. I., who died of wounds received “somewhere in France” on Sept 28. Villagers, footballers, railway artizans, all rubbed shoulders in the sacred edifice; in fact the seating accommodation was taxed to its uttermost, and people were turned away. The service was conducted by the Rev. Mr. Mandel, and the lessons were most impressively read by Mr J. J. Atkinson, C.C., who has also lost a son in the war. Suitable hymns were sung, including “Peace perfect peace” and “Thy will be done.”

In an appropriate sermon the preacher alluded to the patriotic part Cosgrove had played in this horrible war, and the price they had already paid by the loss of their dearest and best. With all these terrible losses still the Allies intended to pursue the course they had begun. The one they were mourning that evening should stand out as an example to those following in his footsteps as one who had done his duty for King and Country. The playing of the dead March in “Saul” was a very befitting end to a most impressive service. A beautiful wreath was placed in the church prior to the service as a token of respect from the Wolverton Social Working Men’s Club, where the deceased was employed.

Joseph Brown is buried at
Nord, France. Grave II. G. I7


Joseph’s brother William “Laddie” Brown played football throughout his war.

Wolverton Express 14th April 1916


Pte Frank Williams, of D Company, 7th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry at Salonica, son of Mr W H W Williams, Green-Lane, Wolverton, write to the Editor of the Wolverton Express;

“A very interesting football match took place last Friday, March 24th in the vicinity of Salonica between two Companies of the 7th Oxford and Bucks L I, who are now doing active service in Greece, the two Companies being D Company and the Headquarters Company. This match was played after the Tommies had had a hard day’s work with the pick and the shovel, kicking off at 5.30 with an Aegean breeze.

D Company won the toss, and the Headquarters Company kicked off before a fair crowd, consisting of British and French troops. After a little even play the Headquarters were having all the game in their favour, and with a little excitement Tolley, of the Headquarters only just missing scoring.

The Headquarters, only the sea breeze in their favour, were well over their opponents. Sherwood, at centre half, was showing his Northants league form for the Headquarters, but was unable to find Lewis, the old Watford goalie, weak, and as the whistle blew half time it was no score.

During the next half play was very even.

E Bennett, of the Headquarters, was very consistent at left half, but as the crowd emerged from the ground A J Ross placed the ball well in the goal mouth, and after a very excitable time Laddie Brown scored the only goal of the match. Thus D Company won by one goal to nil.

Look out for further accounts of other matches later on. Hoping you are in the best of health, as it leaves me top hole. We are having extraordinary hot weather.”

Wolverton Express 16th September 1916


Private William “Laddie” Brown, Oxford and Buck LI, son of Mr and Mrs W Brown, of Cosgrove. News was received on Tuesday morning that this soldier has been slightly wounded in the recent fighting in Greece. Before enlisting, Pte Brown was employed as a fitter in Wolverton Works, and was well known in North Bucks football circles. His brother Joseph was killed in action in France.

Lance-Corporal William Brown (“Laddie”) Oxford and Bucks LI, killed in action on 18th August, son of Mr and Mrs W Brown, aged 32 years. He was one of the most popular young men in the little Northants village, and was respected by a large number of friends around. The deepest sympathy is extended to the bereaved parents, who lost another son at the battle of Hooge 12 months ago, a portrait of whom appeared in the columns of the Wolverton Express.

One of the best type of sportsmen, he (Laddie) had made a name for himself on the football field, and a few years ago played sterling games for the Cosgrove and Wolverton Clubs. The following letter has been received by the parents:

“Dear Mrs Brown –

It is with feelings of heartfelt sympathy and deepest regret that I write to tell you of the death of your ever brave and cheerful son “Laddie” (he was known as “Laddie” throughout the whole battalion and was immensely popular).

On the night of the capture of Horseshoe Hill your son went with me and the rest of the left-half company through an intense barrage of shrapnel and high explosives, which the Bulgarian batteries were sending over. We were carrying tools so that we could get “dug in”. We managed to get there and had to dig in solid rock. Everything seemed hopeless, but Laddie and the boys stuck it, even though we were being shelled all the time and were without water or rations.

On the afternoon of the 18th Captain Martin, Mr Steele and myself were discussing how we were going to hold the position in the event of a counter attack being made and your son was less than three yards away on our left. Suddenly an immense 8.4 shell burst about 15 yards to our left and your brave boy was hit in the abdomen and in the leg. He rolled over and fell at my feet and gasped “Oh, I am bleeding to death!”

We tried our best, but, Mrs Brown, it was a hopeless case and your gallant boy died in twenty seconds. His death unnerved the rest of the platoon as he was such a favourite amongst us all, and took from me one of the best of good fellows. The Oxfords, who got through, have lived through absolute hell, as we were exposed to frontal fire, enfilade fire from both flanks and defilade fire from our left flank by the Bulgarian batteries, which were absolutely raining shrapnel and high explosives on to us. Some of the high explosive shells were 9.5 and never will I be able to realise how the fellows got through that barrage of fire, how they escaped casualties in repelling two counter attacks made by 600 Bulgars and how any of us got out of that hell-spot alive.

I have other letters to write to the relatives of my wounded men, so I will conclude after once more expressing my deepest regret.

I am yours very sincerely,

A P Boor, Lieut., OC 15th Platoon, D Co.


Wolverton Express 29th September 1916


At the Parish Church, Cosgrove, on Sunday evening last, a memorial service was held for the late Private William (Laddie) Brown, who fell in action at Salonica, on the 18th of Aug.

Besides a very large congregation of villagers, including the parents of the deceased, there were representatives from all the football clubs in the neighbourhood, for Laddie was a very popular playing member. Deposited in the chancel were wreaths from relatives of the deceased, the foremen and men of the Fitting Department, Wolverton Carriage Building Works, and a beautiful wreath in the shape of a football from the members of the Cosgrove Football Club.

Special hymns were sung and an appropriate discourse was delivered by the Rev Mr Humbley. At the conclusion of the impressive service, the Dead March, Saul was played.

William “Laddie” Brown is buried at KARASOULI MILITARY CEMETERY, Greece. Grave E. 971.

He is listed on Cosgrove memorials as Lance Corporal.