Glenfarg War Memorial Project

John Brown MC

Lieutenant 6th (Territorial) Battalion Seaforth Highlanders
(firstly, Private 2369 9th The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment))

Born 30 August 1891 Morningside, Edinburgh.
Died 11 April 1918 near Wytschaete, Belgium.
Buried Voormezeele Enclosure 3, Belgium.


John Brown was the son of John and Isabella (née McKay) Brown of 7 Greenhill Place, Edinburgh and Newton of Balcanqual, Gateside, Fifeshire. His grandfather was the physician and essayist Dr John Brown (1810-1882), famous for 'Horae Subsecivae' ('Leisure Hours'), his three volume collection of essays on art, dogs, medical history and biography, who was a friend of contemporaries such as Thackeray and Mark Twain.

John Brown was educated at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, and Balliol College, Oxford. He enlisted as Private 2369 in the 9th Battalion Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) in September 1914, and served with the British Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from 24 February 1915, being wounded in May 1915.

On 5 August 1915 he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, and then in November1917 Lieutenant, in the 6th Battalion (Territorial) Seaforth Highlanders.

He was killed in action, aged 27, on 11 April1918. An officer wrote of him:

He was killed whilst leading his men, and passed out of this life smiling…
He was one of the most popular officers this battalion ever had, and his men frequently asked if there is any chance of Mr Brown coming back to us.
[De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour 1914-1919 Vol 4 p.20]

He was awarded the Military Cross 'for conspicuous gallantry and resource, when defending, with two platoons, an isolated post. Although wounded, he successfully held his trench for a day and a night with the enemy on both flanks in the same trench, and repelled several counter-attacks. His fearlessness and resource were most marked.' (op.cit)

John Brown was buried where he fell near Wytschaete, Belgium. On cessation of hostilities, when those buried in these isolated or battlefield graves were being exhumed for re-burial in war cemeteries, the bodies of two unidentified officers of the Seaforth Highlanders were found, buried in the same location. These were believed to be Lieut. John Brown and Lieut. J.K. Simpson. They are buried side by side, plots 26 and 27, row 13 B, in Voormezeele Enclosure No. 3.