WW1 Hewitt Barnard Brown

Hewitt Barnard Brown

Hewitt and Frederick Barnard Brown were the sons of William Frederick Barnard Brown and Ellen Maisie Brown, of 6 Roslyn (now Entrican) Avenue, Remuera, and then 194 Remuera Road.

Hewitt was born in 1888 and Frederick in 1892. They attended Wanganui Collegiate School along with their two cousins William and Rainsford Balcombe-Brown. Their father was a member of St Aidan’s Vestry from 1920-1922.

Hewitt and his brother Frederick had been farming, Hewitt at Marton and Frederick with their father at Whakatane before the war, but his father William came to live in Auckland when both his sons left on active service. A report in the Wanganui Chronicle (14 June 1915, Page 5) said of Hewitt “An attack of dysentery prevented him leaving with the first Expeditionary Force, but he got away with the Second Reinforcements.” Hewitt left with the Second Reinforcements on December 12th, 1914, and joined the 4th Waikato Squadron Auckland Mounted Rifles (No.13/671). He left Egypt on May 8th, 1915, and was killed on the 19th in a night attack by the Turks.” (In Memoriam, 1914-1918 Wanganui Collegiate School).

A report in the Press, 26 June 1915, Page 5, said Private Hewitt Barnard Brown, who was killed landing at Gallipoli on April 27th, was a grandson of Mr W. R. E. Brown, and nephew of Mr Balcombe Brown, of Wellington. As a boy he was noted for his horsemanship. When only ten years of age he swam the Ohau river when in flood to and fro, hanging to his horse’s tail, because, when asked why he did it, he had seen a bushman do it the day before. He was also a crack shot, and stood 6ft 1in in height”.

The N Z Herald also noted: Trooper H. B. Brown, of the 4th. Waikato, Squadron, Auckland Mounted Rifles, who was reported on June 12 to have been killed in action, was a son of Mr. F. Barnard Brown, Westport. He was 27 years old. Educated at the Wanganui College, Trooper Brown was engaged in farming in the Whakatane district, Bay of Plenty, until the outbreak of the war. His grandfather, Captain Hewett, was killed in the Maori War, and his great-grandfather, Colonel Hewett, was the last surviving Waterloo officer. (New Zealand Herald, 17 June 1915, Page 9.)

Hewitt’s father was moved to write a letter about his son’s death to the N Z Herald after suffering a delay in communication caused by the censor. Sir, —We have lost a son in the fighting on Gallipoli Peninsula. He fell on May 19 in a night attack, and his corporal. Greville Garland, wrote to us on the 20th telling us of his death, and saying it was painless. There was no war news in the letter, yet it was kept back by the censor, and the date of the field post office is June 21. Surely such a letter might have been allowed to pass without delay. The absence of this information has caused us, especially his mother, much pain and anxiety. Through the medium of the Herald I wish to protest against such unnecessary delay when information of such a nature is contained in the letter. Whakatane. F. Barnard Brown. (New Zealand Herald, 6 August 1915, Page 4).

Hewitt is buried at Walker’s Ridge Cemetery on the Gallipoli Peninsula along with 75 other New Zealanders and Australians. His brother Frederick joined A Squadron 11th of the Mounted Rifles Brigade in December 1915 and was discharged in September 1916 with general disability and debility. He was given leave without pay until told to re-enlist in October 1917 joining the 40th Reinforcements and was discharged in 1919. Their sister Louise Elaine Barnard-Brown (later Mrs Codling) also volunteered and was selected for nursing with the New Zealand Army Nursing Service sailing to Egypt in February 1916. She served with the NZ General Hospital in Cairo from March-June 1916 before being discharged as medically unfit due to ill health later that year.

Their two cousins, brothers William Edward Balcombe-Brown and Rainsford Balcombe-Brown, were also killed in the war. (Cenotaph database http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/online-cenotaph/record/C35216). Rainsford Balcombe-Brown was the Squadron’s [56 Squadron] commanding officer and the highest ranking New Zealand airman to lose his life while flying during the war.” (Martyn 1998). He became a Major at the age of 21 and was killed when he was only 23. He is buried at Carnoy Military Cemetery near the Somme. Second Lieutenant William Balcombe-Brown fought in the Royal Field Artillery and was killed in action in Flanders while observing fire from the infantry trenches on June 29th, 1915, aged 22.