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Captain / Northumberland Fusiliers, 9th Bn., Infantry

Died on 08 July 1916

Oswald Eric Wreford-Brown was born on 21st July 1877, the 6th son of William Wreford-Brown and his wife Clara Jane (née Clark) of 5 Litfield Place, Clifton, Bristol. His brothers (1st son) William Henry (1865 - 1941, B then G 1879 - 1882), (2nd son) Charles (1866 - 1951, G 1880 ‑ 1885), (4th son) Gerald (1874 ‑ 1956, G 1888 - 1892), and (5th son) Claude Wreford-Brown (1876 ‑ 1915, G 1890 ‑ 1892) were also at Charterhouse, of whom Claude also fell in the Great War.

At Charterhouse he was a member of the Cricket 1st XI 1894 ‑ 1896, of which he was captain in 1896. He also captained the Football 1st XI 1895‑96. He became a stockbroker. In 1899 he played football for England against Germany and on one occasion in 1900 represented Middlesex at cricket.

Shortly after the outbreak of War he joined the Inns of Court O.T.C. He was commissioned temporary Lieutenant in the Northumberland Fusiliers on 8th November 1914. He later served for 9 months in the Ypres Salient. He was wounded in action by a shell during the Battle of the Somme, in the quadrangle trench near Fricourt. That same day his promotion to the rank of Captain was confirmed. He died of wounds at a Casualty Clearing Station the following day.

A correspondent described his character thus: "I think it is just possible it was not known what O. E. Wreford-Brown was both to the company and also to the battalion. I shall do my best to tell you.

Before we went out to the front the men did not really know your brother, but immediately after getting out they began to realise how very considerate he was of each man's welfare, and how hearty and cheerful he was when everyone was nearly dead beat or thought they were, and how on arrival at the resting place he invariably saw all arrangements made for the comfort of the men before he had looked after his own comfort.

This may not appear to be very extraordinary, and it is not so if you are fairly fresh, but when everyone is badly exhausted and only willing to drop on the ground and sleep on arrival, then it is a very different matter, and I have known him on such occasions come round after we were asleep and put what spare coats or wraps he had on top of us.

In the trenches he was just the same, and his main concern was to spare his men and keep them as fresh as possible.

If there was any particular hot place you would either find him there or on his way there, and however bad it might be I know the men were content, and probably cracking jokes a minute or two after his arrival. It was just the same if we were in a quiet portion of the line and one of our other companies in a hot part, I have known him frequently go up to the officers of that company just to cheer them up. The men in the other companies practically all knew him, and used to like to meet him in the trenches, as he always noticed them and would often have a joke with them or ask them how they were getting on.

As far as work was concerned, well he did far more than his own share of work.

I have only been able to give you a very poor idea of what he was and meant to all of us. I can assure you there would be many a sad heart, not only in ' B' company but also in the battalion, when they lost Captain Wreford-Brown”.

www.thewesternfront.co.uk - the letters of Oswald Eric Wreford-Brown

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