b. 1890 Dunedin, New Zealand. d. 01/10/1916 Eaucourt, France.
Donald Forrester Brown (1890-1916) was born on 23rd February 1890 in Dunedin, New Zealand. His father was Robert Brown, a draper. His mother was Jessie nee McFarlane, and they married at Dunedin in 1872. They were both originally from Lanarkshire, Scotland. Donald was one of ten children.
Donald was educated at South School, Dunedin and Waitaki Boys’ High School, Oamaru, in 1908. He was known to be a talented footballer in his youth. He then worked on his farm at Totara for three years, selling it before enlisting in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 19th October 1915 at Totara, Oamaru. He was promoted to Corporal and embarked for Egypt aboard HMNZT 37 Maunganui with the 9th Reinforcements on 8th January 1916. On arrival in Egypt on 8th February he was assigned to 2nd Battalion Otago Regiment and arrived at Marseilles, France on 11th May. He was promoted to Sergeant before 20th May.
On 15th September 1916 south-east of High Wood, France, when his company had suffered very heavy casualties from machine-gun fire, Sergeant Brown, with another man, advanced to a point within 30 yards of an enemy gun, killing four of the crew and capturing the gun. When the advance of the company was again held up, Sergeant Brown and his comrade rushed another gun and killed the crew. On a third occasion the sergeant attacked single-handed a machine-gun, killed the crew and captured the gun.
Captain WGA Gibson-Bishop MC, commanding 10th (North Otago) Company, recommended him for the DCM for his actions on 15th September. The CO, Lt Colonel GS Smith, told Brown’s father in a letter dated 3rd November that he hoped the recommendation would be upgraded to a VC, but it was not until the officers of the battalion started agitating that any progress was made. This was the first VC awarded to a New Zealander on the Western Front.
Donald was killed in action at l’Abbaye de Eaucourt on 1st October 1916 and is buried in Warlencourt British Cemetery, near Bapaume, France. As Donald never married, the VC was presented to his father by the 2nd Earl of Liverpool, Governor-General of New Zealand at Oamaru on 30th August 1917. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. The VC is held privately. He has been loaned to the North Otago Pioneer Gallery and Museum in the 1960s, and the National War Museum at Waiouru in the 1980s.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: HELD BY FAMILY.
BURIAL PLACE: WARLENCOURT BRITISH CEMETERY, FRANCE.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT III, ROW F, GRAVE 11