Sunday 28 January 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

Ordinary Lives of the First World War

I am honoured to feature this very special family story from the author, Kirsty Ferry

Watch for me at Twilight is the third book in my new Hartsford Mysteries series. I’ve just finished the edits on it, and was asked to think about my dedication before it goes through to the final proofing stage. As the book has a WW2 thread running through it, and my historical hero is an RAF pilot, who is also a poet, the person I chose to dedicate the story to was a relative of mine, who died in WW1.

James Edwin Brown was born in 1894 and died on Monday November 26th 1917. James was a Bombardier in 113th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, and his service number was 376175. He lies in Potijze Chateau Grounds Cemetery and is commemorated on the war memorial in Swalwell, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. He was 23 years old, and died alongside Gunner WJ Callow, who was 36. James left a young wife, May Blanche, who was 22 years old. Their son, James Richard John, had been born earlier that year, and they had only been married since the summer of 1916. Before he became a soldier, James worked in the Tyneside shipyards. May was my Gran’s aunt, and my Gran was named after her, which I think is rather lovely.

My son is also called James, and part of that is to do with the fact it’s a family name on both sides – and obviously James Edwin Brown was a big hero of my son’s when he was younger. He was so excited when we showed him the war memorial commemorating James Edwin, and took a family tree into school for show and tell, although we could never quite work out how many “Greats” it involved!

I, personally, first came across James Edwin when I was researching my family tree, and started digging around archives and records. I knew my Gran had been named after an Aunt, so the original May Blanche was really my starting point; and from there I discovered James Edwin.

I recall as well, that it was coming up to the Millennium, and as a special part of their exhibits, the DLI (Durham Light Infantry) Museum had a computer set up where you could access war records. Back then, I had a ridiculous dial-up internet connection at home, so grabbed a paper napkin and a pen and took the opportunity to discover what I could from this wonderful internet resource! I wasn’t disappointed, and have always, somehow, felt a connection to this chap.

I wonder what he would have been like as a person, what he would have looked like. How he and May met – and was she pregnant when they married, because the dates aren’t clear! May married again, a few years later, but I suspect she never forgot her first love. Almost more tragically, James Edwin appears, of course, in earlier censuses as a little boy – a “scholar”. And as I read about where he lived, and what his family did, and see his name on a list with other children, I think how sad it was that he ended up dead at 23 years old, and that it’s probably best that we can’t predict what our future holds.

I do wonder why James Edwin joined up, as I always thought the shipyards were a reserved occupation, but perhaps he was conscripted after all, or perhaps he simply joined out of choice. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know. I don’t suppose I’ll ever find a picture of him, either, but I live in hope. And now, at least, there’s something else to remember him by in my dedication. 

Warmest thanks to Kirsty for spending time with us today

 And for sharing this very special story about James Edwin Brown. I feel honoured to share his story.

You can find out more about Kirsty and her writing


Twitter @kirsty_ferry

Choc Lit

Amazon UK



  1. Thank you so much. He was a real hero xx

    1. Thank you so much, Kirsty for sharing Edwin's story and for allowing us a privileged glimpse into the life of such a brave man.

  2. Hello Kirsty and Jo
    What an incredibly moving story and how wonderful the names James and May continue to be passed down through your family. You are keeping the memory of a wonderful, brave young man alive with your dedication, and it sounds as if he certainly deserves it. I can't wait to read your book.
    Angela xx

  3. So pleased to see this series again. A great post full of interest.

    1. Thank you, Rosalind. So lovely see you again. Thanks for visiting.

  4. After reading this, how could I not read the book?


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