20097, Lance Corporal, 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
Missing in Action on the 1st July 1916 aged 29
Thiepval Memorial, Somme.
Henry was the son of Henry George & Jane Brown, and the husband of Ann Brown of 7 Albert Street, Stevenage. He worked in Belgium before the First World War and was one of those who was killed in the most renowned action of the war, the first day of The Battle of the Somme.
The battalion, with the 11th Royal Fusiliers on its right, led the left of the attack by the 18th Division. They advanced at 07.30 am and within 15 minutes had captured the first line system of German defences, Emden Trench. Every officer in the two leading platoons, however, had fallen but the men pressed on led by NCO's. The Germans were well protected in their dug-outs and put up a fierce resistance. The assaulting battalions carried forward their attack supported by machine-guns and trench mortars which, according to the Divisional history, provided a hurricane bombardment. Eventually, at 9.30am, after an intensely bitter fight the Battalion took their objectives, the Pommiers Trench & Redoubt which were filled with German dead. The Battalion had suffered some 321 casualties during the assault.
An interesting point was that one of the Battalion officers, Captain A.E.Percival, was awarded the Military Cross for his part in the attack. In 1942, as General Percival, he was to be responsible for the British surrender of the island of Singapore to the Japanese.
At the time of his death local newspapers recorded Henry Brown as serving in the 8th East Kent Regt.
Henry has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. (Panel/Pier 2C.)