Clarence Arthur Brown was born and raised in Braintree, part of a large family headed by a life assurance agent father who died while he was still a child. He moved to Chelmsford and worked at the town’s Hoffmann bearings works, before joining the army in November 1915, at which point his home was in School View. He was mobilised in April 1916 and landed in France in September of that year. He was killed in action in May 1918, aged 21.
He was born in Braintree in 1896, the youngest son of William Brown and Emily Brown. His siblings included: Emily Clara Brown (born in 1882), Stanley William Brown (born in 1883), Sidney John Brown (born in 1884), James Hubert Brown (born in 1886), Eleanor Cecilia Brown (born in 1887), Henry Clement Brown (born in 1889), Harold Herbert Brown (born in 1891), Charles Gordon Brown (born in 1892), Beatrice Mary Brown (born in 1894), Albert Edward Brown (born in 1895), and Dorothy Louisa Brown (born in 1898).
The 1901 census found four-year old Clarence living with his parents and eleven siblings at Church Street in Braintree. At the time his father was an assurance agent.
A decade later the next census recorded Clarence, then aged 14, living with his widowed mother and nine siblings at Station Villas in Braintree.
Within a few years Clarence moved to Chelmsford where he worked at the Hoffmann’s ball and roller bearings factory in the town.
BROWN, CLARENCE ARTHUR,
6th Battalion Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)
After his death his mother was sent his personal effects which were a notebook, wallet, photographs and case, and letters.
Clarence is not commemorated by the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford, but is commemorated on the Hoffmann Manufacturing Company War Memorial, which now resides at Chelmsford Cathedral (pictured).
In September 1919 his mother, four sisters and brother Albert was all living at 16 Station Road in Braintree. Of his brothers, Stanley was at Coggeshall Road in Braintree, Sydney was at Sandpit Road in Braintree, Hugh was at 6 Curzon Street in Chatham, Kent, Harold was at 133 South Street in Braintree, and Albert was at 10 Springfield Road in Chelmsford.
On 15th November 1915 Clarence attested to join the army at Chelmsford for the duration of the war. He was then 19 years old and lived at 7 School View off Rainsford Road, Chelmsford. He was employed as a radius grinder at Hoffmann’s. He was five feet five inches tall, with a 36 inch chest, expandable by two inches, and weighed 110 pounds. He had good physical development. . His next of kin was his mother of 16 Station Road, Braintree.
Clarence was immediately put on the army reserve until 29th April 1916 when he was mobilised. The following dat he was posted to the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) where he served initially as Private 14780 in its 12th Battalion. On 1st September 1916 he was transferred to its 3rd Battalion and 12 days later moved to the infantry base. On that day, after 302 days ‘at home’ he was landed in France.
On 29th September 1916 he was posted to the regiment’s 6th Battalion, and on 10th January 1917 was appointed unpaid Lance Corporal. He became paid Lance Corporal on 19th April 1917 and then Acting Corporal on 3rd May 1917. That same day he was confirmed in rank as Corporal.
On 28th December 1917 he was severely reprimanded after being found guilty of neglect of duty as while in charge of a Lewis gun team his gun was inspected and found to be in a dirty condition.
Clarence was killed in action on 12th May 1918, aged 21. Today he rests at Mailly Wood Cemetery, Mailly Maillet, Somme, France (grave: II. K. 10). His total army service was then two years and 179 days.
On 24th May 1918 the Essex County Chronicle reported:
“Cpl. Clarence Arthur Brown, 21, Royal West Kent Regt., youngest son of the late Mr. W. Brown and Mrs. Brown, Station Road, Braintree, died of wounds in France, May 12. Before the war he was employed at Hoffmann’s, Chelmsford.”