b. 28/05/1898 Huddersfield, Yorkshire. d. 25/09/1982 Annan, Scotland.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 27/03/1917 Marquay, France.
Richard Leslie Brown (1898-1979) was born on 28th May 1898 in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. “RL” as he became known was educated at Tydeswell School, Derby, where he gained a reputation as a very good sportsman. He particularly excelled at shooting, being described as a “fantastic shot”, so when he was called up during the Great War, he became an instructor.
Being too young to enlist at the beginning of the First World War, he had to wait a while, before he joined the London Regiment, Territorial Force as a Private. He was commissioned in the London Gazette on 2nd February 1917 to Second Lieutenant in the Royal Lancaster Regiment, effective from 6th January 1917. He would later be promoted to Temporary Lieutenant in July 1918, but was forced to relinquish his commission due to his wounds suffered in his Albert Medal action.
On 27th March 1917, he was instructing a class in firing rifle grenades when, owing to a defective cartridge, one of the grenades only lifted about 2in and then fell back into the cup. The safety catch had been released and the grenade was live. Lieutenant Brown at once ordered the men to take cover and, running forward, he picked up the rifle, seized in between his legs, grasped the grenade in his hands and endeavoured to throw it away. While he was doing so it exploded, blowing off his right hand and inflicting other wounds. Had he not seized the grenade there can be little doubt that several men would have been killed or severely injured.
He was gazetted for the Albert Medal on 4th January 1918, and due to the fact that he lost most of his right arm in the action, he had to learn how to write with his left hand and became an excellent shot. On leaving the Army, he was given employment with Hopkinsons Ltd (Huddersfield) which began through his father, who was a friend of one of the founders. He joined the company as an engineer in 1919, and became a Director in 1928, and rose to Chairman in 1942. He took the company through some difficult times and also took them from a private company to a plc. Hopkinsons is now pat of Weir Valve Operations. RL married Mary Stork and, although having no children of their own, they cared for a young friend who had been orphaned, Peter Walker, who came to live with them when he was a teenager and stayed until 1951, when he got married. After RL retired from being Chairman of Hopkinsons, he remained as President until 1972 before he retired to Annan, Dumfrieshire, Scotland.
In 1971, following the change in the Royal Warrant, RL chose to exchange his Albert Medal for a George Cross, and donated his AM to the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum, Lancaster. Richard passed away on 25th September 1982, and he was cremated at Carlisle Crematorium. His ashes were scattered in Wood 3. His wife passed away two years later, and her ashes were scattered on the same site as her husbands. Richard’s GC, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 and 1977 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal were also donated to the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum, Lancaster to join his Albert Medal.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: KING’S OWN ROYAL REGIMENT MUSEUM, LANCASTER.
BURIAL PLACE: CARLISLE CREMATORIUM, CARLISLE.
ASHES SCATTERED IN WOOD 3.
Stewart May – Image of Brown GC’s name in the Book of Remembrance, Carlisle Crematorium.
King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum, Lancaster – Images of the Brown Albert Medal and George Cross.