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Captain Gordon Hargreaves Brown KIA October 29th 1914

On this, the first of my soldier profiles, we have Captain Gordon Hargreaves Brown of the Coldstream Guards. I became aware of this officer and his story when I started researching a post 1885 Victorian Coldstream Guards sword.

The son of 1st Baronet Sir Alexander Brown of Broome, Gordon Hargreaves Brown was born in 1880, was schooled at Eton and Sandhurst before joining the guards in 1900 and served in the South African campaign with the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards.

Receiving promotions after South Africa he went into World War One as Captain Gordon Hargreaves Brown 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards.

Captian Brown shipped out to France on the 14th of August 1914 with the BEF and by the 23rd of August was already involved in heavy action at the Battle of Mons and the retreat before the Battle of the Marne, the Battle of Aisne and finally during the 1st Battle for Ypres, specifically the defence of Gheluvelt.

The 1st Battalion, already at a reduced strength (approximately 300 men left of 1000) was given an area of the line at the Gheluvelt Crossroads to hold from an impending advance by a newly reorganized front commanded by General von Fabek, given six divisions by General von Falkenhayn.

On the dawn of the 25th of October 1914 the Coldstream guards were on the north side of the Menin road and under constant bombardment, 300 men guarding an 800 yard stretch of the line being given replacements from the Gloucesters to fill the gaps when they German artillery inevitably hit their targets.

The British artillery were down to as few as nine shells per gun, there was almost no return fire.

Intelligence had assumed the attack would come from the south side of the road where the majority of the allied force was arrayed to repel the advance of the 16 Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment. When the attack came it didn't hit the 7th Infantry Brigade in the south side of the Menin road but the remaining Coldstream Guards, a smattering of the replacements from the Gloucesters and their nearest support down the line, 250 Black Watch and this is where the Captain was killed, holding the line against the German foe at Gheluvelt. The surviving 150 effective and wounded Coldstream Guards made a fighting retreat to friendly forces on the South side of the road led by their highest ranking man, a quartermaster and the remaining soldiers were withdrawn into Brigade Reserve that night. Losing his life in a valiant defence Captain Brown, 1st Batt. Coldstream Guards, served his King and Country. Gheluvelt was held. His body was never recovered. If you happen to visit the Menin Gate Memorial his name is displayed on panel 11 so spare a moment.

In addition to the images of the sword (images owned by me) and the image of officers of the 2nd Batt. Coldstream Guards (images kindly donated) I am waiting on responses from certain museums and private collections regarding the use of a portrait of Captain Brown.

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