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Wreford-Brown, O.E., Capt., 1916

De Ruvigny Roll of Honour Vol 3 page 39

Newcastle Journal Thursday 28/09/1916

Newcastle Journal Thursday 13/07/1916

Oswald Eric Wreford-Brown Estate notice

In the Corbie Communal Cemetery is the Commonwealth War Grave of Captain Oswald Eric Wreford-Brown, serving with the 6th Platoon, 'B' Company, 9th (Service) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers who died on the 07/07/1916.

Oswald Eric Wreford-Brown was born on the 21st July 1877, at 5 Litfield Place, Clifton, Bristol, the 6th son of William Wreford-Brown, [died 1915], of 5 Litfield Place, Clifton, Bristol, and his wife Clara Jane, daughter of Henry Clark, M.D., and brother to Captain Claude Wreford-Brown, D.S.O.

Oswald was educated at Waynflete, Durdham Downs, Wells House, Malvern Wells and Charterhouse. At Charterhouse he played both cricket and football elevens, and captained the cricket team in 1896. He occasionally played county cricket for Gloucestershire, and represented the Old Carthusians, Free Foresters and Corinthians, the premier English amateur eleven, in Association football. Oswald played football for the Old Carthusians and the Corinthians as well, and represented England against Germany in 1899. He was also captain of the Charterhouse School Team 1896.

[Old Carthusians Football Club is an association football club whose players are former pupils of Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey, England. The club was established in 1876 and won the FA Cup in 1881, as well as the FA Amateur Cup in 1894 and 1897. The club currently plays in the Arthurian League and won league and Arthur Dunn Cup doubles in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014].

Wisden on the Great War: The Lives of Cricket's Fallen, 1914-1918 by Andrew Renshaw, states that Capt Oswald Eric Wreford-Brown, played a single match for Gloucestershire in 1900. One brother Claude, died on May 25, 1915, aged 39, another Charles, played first class cricket and was an England football international and administrator, said to be the first to use the word "soccer" for the sport.

In 1901, he was living with his brother, Charles at 4 Chilworth Street, Paddington, London.

Charterhouse Register 1872 to 1900.Wreford-Brown, Oswald Eric. b. 21 July, 1877. (Gownbojs); Cricket XI, 1894, '95, '96 ; Capt., *96 ; Football XI, 1895-'96; Left G.Q., 1896. Played Football for England v. Germany, 1899; for Old Carthusians (Winners of the London Senior Cup, 1899; the Arthur Dunn Cup, with Old Salopians, 1903). Stock Exchange, 1902; Partner in firm of Messrs. Kitcat, Mortimer, Wreford-Brown.O.E.Wreford-Brown, Esq. SotuhSea House, Threadneedle St., E.C.,

He was a member of the Stock Exchange, from 1902. Partner in [the] firm of Messrs. Kitcat, Mortimer. Wreford-Brown was a keen sportsman, he played for Middlesex County Cricket club in 1900. [Wreford-Brown made a single first-class appearance for the team, during the 1900 season, against Middlesex. From the tailend, he scored 5 runs in the only innings in which he batted]. He also spent 2 years in Canada, and trained in the Inns of Court Corps, was gazetted a Temporary Lieutenant in the Northumberland Fusiliers on the 8th November 1914. Then promoted temporary Captain on the 8th September 1915, [Gazette 20/10/1915] before being promoted Captain.

There is an extract from the Stock Exchange Memorial Book which reads:- Captain Oswald Eric Wreford-Brown, Northumberland Fusiliers, was born in 1877 and educated at Charterhouse, representing his school at both cricket and football. Before coming a member of the Stock Exchange in 1902 he had spent four years in Canada.

Soon after the outbreak of war he joined an Officers Training Corps and was given his commission in the Northumberland Fusiliers in November 1914.

He went to France with his Regiment on the 15th July, from Hursley Park, Winchester, to Folkestone, and arrived in France on Saturday 17th July, [where coincidentally at Boulogne, he had played football at Easter Time 1914 for DC's], and soon was promoted to Captain. He was mortally wounded at Fricourt on 5 July 1916, and died three days later.

Somme diary for Wednesday 5th July, At 12.45 am., after a 30 minute bombardment, 2nd Royal Irish Regiment and 1st Royal Welsh (22 Brigade, 7th Division), 9th Northumberland Fusiliers and 10th Lancashire Fusiliers (52 Brigade, 17th Division) crept to within 100 yards of the enemy under cover of rain and darkness. They charged and secured Quadrangle Trench and Shelter Alley. On the right the Royal Irish, held up by wire, were counter attacked and driven back. They tried twice more under heavy machine gun fire but with no success, so neither Mametz Wood nor Wood Trench was gained.

His Colonel [Lieutenant-Colonel W A Vignoles] wrote: None gave his life with greater gallantry or showed greater contempt for danger. No one was more solicitous for the welfare of his men who loved him so well.

And another Colonel under whom he served: Nobody could possibly be more unselfish or so unsparing of himself. He treated his company ['B'], like his children. All our men, who spent two years nearly with him, will be the better for it, for he gave them such a splendid example of always playing the game.

One of his sergeants wrote: A stouter heart I never knew. He was a Britisher absolutely, and never flinched. He was everyone's favourite.

One of his men wrote: The captain had a heart like a lion.And another: He was also a soldier and a gentleman, and the greatness of his loss to us all cannot be put into words.

A Charterhouse master:To some of us older ones here...this is the worst knock we have had, and that's saying a good deal. We shall never forget the keenest and cheeriest of Carthusians.

Oswald was in the Ypres salient for nine months, near to 'International Trench' and the Ypres Canal. He was seriously wounded in the left thigh at the Battle of the Somme by a shell, [which blew a great deal of his left thigh off without however damaging the bone or artery], in the 'Quadrangle' Trench, near Fricourt on the 5th July and died at 4.45pm in the 5th Casualty Clearing Station on the 7th July 1916. He was buried in Corbie Communal Cemetery, near Amiens, the following day at 10.30 am on Saturday 8th July.

Though he had no natural inclination for Military life, he gave himself up wholly to it, and he had become a capable officer, his one thought was for his men, their comfort and welfare, and he had won their respect and love. He was unmarried.

De Ruvigny Roll of Honour

He was in command of the 6th platoon of 'B' Company, known as the 'Quayside' Commercials.

The original letters which Edward Wreford-Brown wrote to his sister during the Great War have been compiled chronologically at Belgium 1915 by James Fanning as a secondary school project.

He has kindly sent this transcription. Follow the link below.

Oswald Eric Wreford-Brown is remembered at Newcastle in NUT241 page 46, and at Ushaw Moor U8.05.

Read his Letters
Charterhouse War Memorial
Stock Exchange War Memorial
Corinthians and Casuals Remembered
The CWGC entry for Captain Wreford-Brown

Transcript of letters from Captain Wreford-Brown

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk