Durham & Newcastle Diocesan Association
The Clock Tower
Sunday, 2 September 2018 in 46m (10–0–26 in G)
1260 Plain Bob Triples
1 Barbara Wheeler
2 Gillian Wheeler
3 Madeline Littlewood
4 Colin Wheeler
5 Roger Ashmore
6 Christopher Teasdale
7 Matthew Cracknell (C)
8 Ian Shaw
Rung half-muffled in memory of Pte John William Brown (1880-1918), a Morpeth bellringer who was killed in action in WWI 100 years ago today. Rung as part of Ringing to Remember, the D&N First World War Centenary Commemoration.
John was born in Morpeth on 2nd September 1880, the eldest of three children to Robert and Elizabeth Brown. The family lived at 3 Fenwick Grove and John had two younger sisters, Alice and Isabella. He was educated at the King Edward VI School and trained to be a solicitor with George and Francis Brumell, Morpeth. John went on to work for two solicitors firms in Newcastle, Dees & Thompson and Leadbitter & Harvey.
From a young age he is said to have identified as a liberal in politics. He was a great admirer of The Right Honourable Thomas Burt, the MP for Morpeth at that time who was one of the first MPs from a working-class background. An accomplished public speaker, he frequently addressed political meetings and was secretary of the Morpeth Liberal Society as well as being a member of the Newcastle Liberal Club.
In addition to his activities in politics he was a keen bellringer at Morpeth. He appears in the Morpeth Clock Tower Bellringers' photograph taken on 9th August 1902, Coronation Day of King Edward VII. He joined the Durham & Newcastle Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers in 1906.
In April 1912 he emigrated to Winnipeg in Canada. His passage to North America was aboard the SS Megantic (A White Star Line ship). Arriving in Portland, Maine on 26th April 1912 from Liverpool, he then travelled on to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Incidentally, his voyage to North America occurred within days of the sinking of the RMS Titanic (15th April 1912). While in Winnipeg he resided at 87 Smith Street and served his articles with MacDonald, Craig, Tarr and Ross. He is reputed to have been a skilled barrister (as well as solicitor).
On 11th May 1917 he married Ruby May Richardson. That same month he enlisted in the Canadian Army (29th May 1917). His battalion left for the UK from Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the SS Megantic on 24th November 1917 meaning John had to leave his wife of 6 months who was pregnant with their only child, behind. His daughter, Dorothy Lee Brown, was born on 27th February 1918.
He enlisted in the 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers) of the Manitoba Regiment in the Canadian Infantry (service number 2181328). According to his attestation papers he was 5' 7" in height with a dark complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. He also identified himself as an agnostic. Unusually for someone of his stature in society at that time, he decided not to wait for a commissioned office. He arrived back in Liverpool on 7th December 1917 and embarked for France from Seaford on 29th April 1918.
The 78th battalion was involved in the 2nd Battle of Arras and on 2nd September 1918 (his 38th birthday) was involved in the first part of the Scarpe Operation. During these exchanges we was wounded in the leg and while making his way to the dressing station, he was fatally shot in the stomach three times by enemy machine gun fire and died almost immediately. He is interred in Plot I. B. 20. in Dury Mill British Cemetery, France.
John would never have known his daughter, Dorothy. Sadly, further tragedy would strike the Brown family as John's father, Robert, died aged 69 on 1st September 1919, the day before the anniversary of his son's death.
John's life is commemorated on Morpeth Cenotaph, Morpeth St James' Church War Memorial, Morpeth Goosehill School War Memorial, King Edward VI School War Memorial and the Durham and Newcastle Diocesan Association bellringers' plaque in Newcastle Cathedral.

This performance is linked to the event Durham & Newcastle Diocesan Association — Ringing to Remember .