John McLeod Brown

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John McLeod Brown
Brown John Mcleod.jpg
Photos courtesy Neville Browning's "For King and Cobbers - 51st Battalion AIF" page 29
Brown JM Platoon.jpg
Personal Information
Date of Birth not known 1870
Place of Birth Essendon. Victoria
Death 27 Jun 1916
Age at Enlistment 24 years, 4 months
Description 5'6½" (1.69m) tall ; 145lbs
65.771 kg
; sallow complexion ; hazel eyes ; brown hair ; tattoo on left wrist
Occupation labourer
Religion Presbyterian
Address Gosnells, Western Australia
Next of Kin Brother , Mr Richard Cranfield Brown
Military Information
Reg Number 22
Date of Enlistment 15 Feb 1915
Rank Private
Unit/Formation A Coy 28th Battalion, transferred to 51st Battalion
Date of Embarkation 9 Jun 1915 ‒ 2 Jul 1915
Ship Embarked On HMAT A11 Ascanius
Fate Accidental death - shot by sentry
Monument Gosnells War Memorial
Gosnells Road Board Honour Roll
Gosnells Ward Honour Roll
Australian War Memorial
Medals 1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Pre War

Electoral Roll entry: 1912 The Park, Pinjarra, labourer

War Service

Entered Blackboy Hill camp on 13 Feb 1915 and was initially posted to C Company of the 24th Battalion at that time being raised in WA to supplement the main recruitment drive in Victoria. Later when Victorian enrolments managed to fill the 24th Battalion locally, he was allocated to A Company of the 28th Battalion and he sailed with them to Egypt.

On 12 Jul 1915 John was admitted to hospital in Abbassia, being released back to duty on 16 Jul 1915. On 3 Sep 1915 the battalion marched to Qubba Station and boarded a train for Alexandria where the HMT Ivernia awaited them. They sailed at 6:00pm for Mudross Harbour on Lemnos Island where they transhipped on 10 Sep 1916 to the much smaller HMT Sarnia for the last part of the voyage to Anzac Cove. Disembarking at midnight in the dark they spent the rest of the night n Waterfall Gully. (Two platoons of A Coy were used as working parties on the beach for the next two days.

By the time John reported sick on 3 Nov 1915 on Gallipoli sickness was putting more men out of action than the fight itself 137 versus 36. John was again hospitalised, this time with the 7th Australian Field Ambulance, with jaundice. Passed on to the 13th Casualty Clearing Station, he was evacuated to Alexandria aboard the HS Maheno before being admitted to the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital on 15 Nov 1915 in Heliopolis. John was fit enough to return to duty on 8 Dec 1915 when he was sent to the Ghezirah Base. A third hospital visit occurred from 19 - 23 Mar 1916 when he was hospitalised with an eye problem.

On 2 Apr 1916 John was transferred to the 51st Battalion in Serapeum, at that time being raised in Egypt for service on the Western Front. John suffered a short bout of Influenza while on the Canal Defence Line. On 4 Jun 1916 the battalion boarded trains at the Serapeum West siding for Gabbary Quay Alexandria where they boarded HMT Ivernia. Leaving harbour at 9:00am on 5 Jun 1916, they arrived in Marseilles at 7:00am on 11 Jun 1916. On 12 Jun 1916 they began their journey north in cattle trucks to Caestre where they detrained on 14 Jun 1916.

Their relief of the 10th Battalion, then holding a section of the front line just south of Fleurbaix began on the evening of 22 Jun 1916, with one Company relieving a 10th Battalion company each alternate night. It was reported that no casualties occurred during the battalion change over, but that by 30 Jun 19016 the battalion had lost 5 KIA, 1 Died of Wounds, and 17 Wounded.

John's records contain an entry "Accidentally killed by Sentry in the Field - 27 Jun 1916.

"A.C. 1799 proceedings of Court of Enquiry assembled at Front Line France on 27/6/16 by order of Lt. Colonel A.M.Ross DSC, OC 51st Battalion A.I.F. for the purpose of enquiring into the accidental shooting of No. 22 Private Brown, J. McL., a soldier of "C" Company 51st Battalion A.I.F. President Capt. M.C. Kelly, Members Lt. H.D. Williams & Lt. F.W. Bailey. Finding of the Court. The Court having carefully considered the evidence put before them are of the opinion that:- Private Brown met his death by being shot by a sentry (Pte Constance) whilst in the execution of his duty. No blame being attached to anyone."

John's file contains the evidence given it appears that he was part of a Listening Post in front of the lines and although challenged twice failed to respond and was shot by a sentry. Wounded at about 2.45am he was taken into the trench, and although treated by stretcher bearers he died at 3:10am.

  • Rue-du-Bois Cemetery
  • Grave location at Rue-du-Bois Cemetery


Two of John's brothers enlisted in Victoria, 751 Pte Richard Cranfield Brown served with the 24th Battalion, and 597/4447 Sapper Robert Leslie Brown with the 8th Field Company Engineers. both returned to Australia in 1919.

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