The 20th Infantry Battalion of the 1st Central Ontario Regiment landed in France on 15th September 1915. They were assigned to the Ypres Salient, near Messines. They were under continuous bombardment from shell and sniping attacks. They had to hold the area, patrol it and repair trenches and barbed wire.
On 28th September 1915 Private Harold Browne (7) of the “A” Company was killed in action. Harold died of shrapnel wounds to the head and was the first member of the battalion to be killed after they took up their position at the front. This was a year before steel helmets were issued. He was 24 years old.
Harold Browne was born on 12th December 1890 to George Bowman and Louisa Browne, of 65, Wellmeadow Rd., Lewisham, London. He was their youngest son.
In the 1911 census he was living at 40 King Charles Road, Surbiton, with his parents, as a motor trader. In 1913 he emigrated to Canada. He never lived in Benfleet but his father retired here. He joined the forces on 10th November 1914.
His father’s address was “Thorpdene” South Benfleet. He died on 20th December1920 after the War memorial was dedicated. He made sure his son was remembered. His son’s details are also on Canadian War memorials.
Thanks to the Browne descendants for additional facts and permission to use the photographs.