Four brothers, sons of a Church of Scotland moderator,
FOUR brothers who attended the same school in Glasgow and died in action in the First World War, were remembered by the school yesterday at its 2018 War Memorial Service.
John Rankine Brown and his brothers William, George and
Harold all perished between 1916 and 1918. Their father, the Very Reverend Doctor John Brown, Moderator of the Church of Scotland in 1916, died in 1919, leaving his inconsolable widow, Margaret, to mourn her losses until her own death in 1943. Two of her own daughters also pre-deceased her. The brothers all attended the High School of Glasgow.
Countless schools across Scotland have memorials commemorating the fallen of the First World War. They all tell their own story of sacrifice. In some cases, the memorials have outlived the actual schools. In September it was reported that a memorial to former Wishaw High School pupils, rescued after the school closed in 1990, was to get a new home at Wishaw Old Parish Church.
The first of the Brown brothers to die was also the youngest. Harold,
19, fought with the Seaforth Highlanders at Ypres, was invalided home, returned to action with the 1st Gordons and fell in action at the Somme, on July 18, 1916, at Delville Wood. His body was never found.
The eldest brother, John, had been a prize-winning scholar before gaining a territorial commission in the 7th Highland Light Infantry. He was invalided home in 1915 after being wounded at Gallipoli. In 1916 he was sent to Egypt but was mortally wounded in the Battle of Gaza on April 21, 1917, and died two days later, aged 31.
George, who had worked for the Burmah Oil Company in Glasgow after leaving school, served with the 11th Royal Highlanders (Black Watch) and on April 21, 1917, received gunshot wounds while in action against Turkish troops in Mesopotamia. The Second Lieutenant died of his injuries a month later, aged 22.
In the summer of 1917, after the deaths of his three brothers, William, who had been on active service in France as a Lewis Gun Officer, attached to the 1st Battalion of the 3rd North Staffordshire Regiment, was sent to northern France as a machine-gun instructor. But, anxious to return “to the line”, he secured a transfer to the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, was given command of a company, and ten days later was killed at the end of an operation to capture Uniform Farm, near Gheluwe, Belgium, which was held by vastly superior enemy forces. He was just 26.
In all, 478 former pupils at the High School of Glasgow fell in action or died in service during the Great War. All of them are recorded in the school’s book of service and