WILLIAM EDGAR BROWNING (3 April 1899 – 23 August 1918)

William Edgar Browning, known as Edgar, was born on 3 April 1899 and lived with his family in Stock Lane. He was the son of William Henry Browning, a carpenter & wheelwright and his wife, Bessie. Both were born in Churchill in 1870. They had five children: Frederick Ernest born 1892, Maud born 1895, William Edgar, Walter Samuel born 1902, and Vera Madge born 1910.

Edgar joined up in 1917. He was serving as Private 67871 in the 6th Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment when he was killed in action in France on 23rd August 1918. He is buried in the Meaulte Military cemetery. The village of Meaulte, in the Department of the Somme, France, was held by Commonwealth Forces from 1915 to 26 March 1918, when it was evacuated. It was recaptured on 22nd August 1918. The cemetery, which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is located south of the village, has 291 casualties buried there.

The following appeared in the Weston Mercury & Somerset Herald on the 21st September 1918:-

KILLED IN ACTION. We regret to hear of the death of Private Edgar Browning, of Langford. His parents had the sad news conveyed to them on Wednesday afternoon from the War Office that he was killed in action fighting for his country. He was a splendid boy and will be mourned by all who knew him. He was a member of the Churchill choir, and a Sunday School teacher. Much sympathy is felt for his bereaved parents.

Edgar’s elder brother Frederick also served in the War. As a farmer he had emigrated to Australia where he enlisted with the Machine Gun Company, November 1916, in Brisbane, giving his address as c/o Mr E Thatcher, Mary Valley Line, Queensland. He gave his occupation as farmer and his mother Bessie as his next of kin. Many of his Military documents have survived and can be found on-line. He was given some home leave in January 1917, then signed up for service abroad in February before sailing from Melbourne in June. He arrived in Liverpool in August or September. Almost immediately he was hospitalised with acute appendicitis in Fargo Military hospital, Larkhill. He was transferred to the 41st Battalion Australian Infantry around this time. He then spent time in Fovant hospital, the Southern General in Bristol and in the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford. He was discharged to a company depot at Hurdcott in November before being classified fit in December. He left Fovant for France in February 1918. In August he was suffering with foot problems and was invalided back to Northamptonshire Hospital. In November he was transferred to a company depot in Sutton Veny, Wiltshire from where he returned to Australia in December. He went on to grow pineapples in Queensland. He married there but neither he nor any of his siblings had any children.

The youngest brother Walter became a grocer, his business being Browning and Watts in Churchill.