Lest We Forget Continued (page 23)
He was then transferred to Bedford Convalescence Depot where he was declared A1 . Eventually he was sent home on leave and then on to Gloucester (Reservoir) Camp in Holding Unit and passed fit for service in Palestine and India with the 1st Battalion Wiltshire Regiment. Private Reg Edwards served with the 1st Battalion in India at Rawalpindi, and the company Reg was in spent a month in a pleasant hillstation at Ranikhet which overlooked the vast white range of the Himalayas in the distance. After a month there Reg served at Agra in a Fort overlooking the Taj Mahal. He was eventually demobbed at Jhansi then on to Dulali for a week and then through the Suez Canal and Mediterranean and back home to Tilbury Docks. Finally by train to Woking and home to Hannington, Wilts on 8th October 1946. After three months home leave he then reported back to work with Percy Chick the Highworth Building Contractors as a bricklayer. Reg was recalled for two weeks training with the 4th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment at Windmill, Ludgershall which most of the time was spent playing football.
Another Normandy veteran, Norman JURY, being a Cornishman had joined his local regiment, The Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry, on the 1st January 1940. The 5th Battalion DCLI went to France as of the D Day Landings, (Operation Overlord). When the men came off the landing craft they were quite a distance from the shore which meant they had to wade ashore in fairly deep water. Norman said everyone was soaked from head to toe, nevertheless they had to carry on with wet uniforms and equipment under very heavy fire from the Germans. It was while going across open fields to capture Hill 112 that the 5th Battalion sustained considerable casualties. The men thought the field was empty, but trees started to move and the ground opened up and tanks came out. Nearly all the men were killed during the battle for Hill 112, which was later called “The Duke of Cornwalls Hill. Out of about 3,400 men who went in, 44 came out. The DCLI was disbanded. It was during this time that Norman Jury transferred to the Glider Pilot Regiment, which he never mentioned too much about. It is believed he didn’t like the gliders very much. After the war having married a local girl he settled down to make his home in Fairford, Gloucestershire.
S/5441629 Lance Corporal Albert George BROWN.
Royal Army Service Corps, attached to 77th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery. Killed in action 20th June 1944, age 27 years.
Like several other Highworth young men Bert Brown was called up at the outbreak of war to serve in the Armed Forces. He was sent to serve with the Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry with his initial training being done at Bodmin Moor in Cornwall.
After completing his training it was found that the rapid pace of marching was not suited to him. He was then transferred to the Royal Army Service Corps.
He was eventually attached to the 77 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery. During December 1941 his unit set sail from Greenock, Scotland, bound for the Middle East, arriving in Cape Town, January 1942, then diverted to Singapore, but on the way heard that it had capitulated to the Japanese forces on 15th February 1942. So instead they landed at Java in February 1942. At this time very little information was being received from the Far East. In a letter dated 14th March 1942 from the War Office Mr and Mrs Brown was informed that their son Albert was missing, probably in Malaya, or he could be a prisoner of war of the Japanese. A further letter was received on the 2nd September 1942 stating that the ship he was travelling on was proceeding to Java. It is now believed that he was taken prisoner around the end of March 1942 and was then taken to a POW camp in Singapore where he met Gunner Reg Brock of the 77 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.
Reg said he remembers Bert Brown asking him if he came from Highworth because he thought he had seen him in the Fishes Inn before the war.
He only knew him for two days before they were parted. Reg was sent to Sumatra on a Japanese transport ship, and Bert on another to Java. It was during early July 1943 that his parents received another letter from the War Office informing them that their son Bert was a Japanese prisoner of war in Java. During this time they received some letter postcards from Bert which had been sent from a POW camp in Java, which of course had been censored by the Japanese. These postcards were typed and read; “I am in good health. Thinking of you and hope you are alright and so on” They were signed, Bert. But of course, we now know that they were very badly treated, living in dreadful conditions with hardly any food or medical supplies. Another letter from the War Office dated 24th February 1945, said that they (the war office) had received an official list from the Japanese authorities in Tokyo, of men missing following a sinking in Japanese waters of a transport ship on its way from Java to Japan. Finally on the 19th March 1946 Mr and Mrs Brown received a certificate of death from the War Office saying that their son L/Corp. Albert George Brown RASC who was officially reported missing, has now been presumed dead by the War Office, that he was killed in action on the 20th June 1944, at sea while a prisoner of war in Japanese hands.
Lance Corporal Bert Brown is commemorated by name on Column 98 of the Singapore Memorial, Singapore. The memorial stands in Kranji War Cemetery, 22 kilometres north of the city of Singapore on the north side of Singapore Island, overlooking the Straits of Johore.
Bert Brown was educated at Highworth school and after leaving he worked at the Highworth Matting Factory in Brewery Street. He was a keen fresh water fisherman.
During this anxious time Bert‘s mother Mrs Ada Brown worked tirelessly organising and running a “Comforts Club” for the troops who were stationed in and around Highworth. In a building which was called the “Naffi” near the Recreation Centre, which at that time was the Conservative Party rooms, Mrs Brown along with others, made the servicemen welcome with sandwiches and hot cups of tea. She also managed to obtain some bars of chocolate from the Government which at that time was in short supply. The troops were also able to play billiards and various other games. During the war there were units of the RASC stationed in Highworth, and also several Ack-Ack and searchlight batteries situated around the outskirts of the town. The ”Naffi” was a very welcome relief centre when they were off duty. Ada Brown was one of the many unsung heroes of the Second World War who unstintingly gave up her time to help others. Her husband James worked for many years on the Warneford Estate at Sevenhampton. During the war their youngest son Bill worked on war work at Watchfield airfield. After the war he worked at the REME workshops opposite Watchfield airfield for 35 years.