PRIVATE W BROWN
30TH OCTOBER 1914 AGE 18
BURIED: BETHUNE TOWN CEMETERY, VLAMERTINGHE, FRANCE
This inscription, which sounds like a plain statement, is in fact the title of both a 1916 film - about a general's son framed by a spy for cardsharping who enlists as a private and saves his father and girlfriend from capture - and of a music hall song.
A soldier stood on the battlefield
His weary watch to keep,
While the pale moon covered her mantle
O'er the souls that 'neath her sleep.
"Ah me!" he sighed with tearful eye,
And called on him above,
"I'm far away from my children dear
And all on earth I love."
At the bugle sound he turned once more
The battlefield to scan,
"I am, whate'er my fate,
A soldier and a man."
The bugle called, he hastened forth,
The bravest in the battle's van.
Remember him who yields his life,
He is a soldier and a man.
The night-watch o'er the morn dawned,
Her light on earth to show,
And the soldier true to his country's call,
Advanced to meet the foe.
Amid the din of shot and shell
He fought with heart so brave,
'Till reeling from his faithful steed,
He found a soldier's grave.
Oh, Father! who in heaven above
Hath all things at Thy span,
Remember him who yields his life
Is a soldier and a man.
We know very little about Private W Brown other than that he was a regular soldier serving with the 1st Battalion the Gordon Highlanders. The regiment crossed to France on 14 August 1914 and was involved in very heavy fighting, suffering many losses, during the first few months of the war. By the time he died, eighteen-year-old Private Brown would have earned his epitaph, 'A soldier and a man'.