Thomas Calderhead Brown of the Scots Guards

Great War Stories

This post is part 2 of the Great War Stories series which was compiled by members some years ago for the School Open Evening.  It seems the right time to give them another airing.  This is an example of someone who was severely wounded in action but returned home safely in the end.

Thomas Calderhead Brown was born the second child of Thomas Brown a Mercantile Cashier and his wife Isabella Crawford Jago on 27 November 1897 at 82 Prince Albert Street, Crosshill in Glasgow.  He was named after his great uncle – Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Calderhead Brown – who had served with the Royal Scots in the Crimea and received a battlefield commission.

His parents had had six children by  the 1911 census  – Margaret (Greta) born in 1893, Ella born 1895, Thomas (Calder), Agnes (Nan) born 1900, Grace born 1903 and Daniel born 1904.  The family was further increased when his aunt Hester drowned in 1913 and his cousins Alexander (Derek) and Annie (Onie) came to live with them.

Thomas Calderhead BrownWar service

Calder’s medal card shows that he served in the Scots Guards as a Private and received the Victory and British War Medals.  His Army service record survived the Blitz so is also available and states that he enlisted not long after his 18th birthday on 9 Dec 1915.  His address was given as 77 Mount Annan Drive, Mount Florida, Glasgow and his occupation as a clerk.

He was first sent to the Army Reserve until he was mobilised on 11 May 1916 and a medical history form was completed then.  At that time he was 5 feet 9 and half inches in height and had a chest measurement of 34 inches. His form is stamped “Field Service at Home”.

Nearly a year later on 13 February 1917 Thomas was re-mobilised and given another medical.  Now aged 19 years and 3 months he had grown a quarter of an inch in height and an inch and a half in the chest.

From 11 May 1917 to 24 December 1917 Thomas was in Britain.  Then, on being posted to the 2nd Battalion of the Scots Guards, he embarked for the British Expeditionary Force in France on 28 December 1917 finally arriving on 30 December at Le Havre to join the Guards Brigade.

On 4 February 1918 he joined his Battalion.

Gun shot wound to the head

Barely three weeks later on 22 February 1918 he was wounded in action – Gun Shot Wound to the head.  This was severe and he was sent back to England on 27 May 1918 to the 2nd Western General Hospital in Manchester where he spent a further 78 days in hospital and had to have a blood transfusion.

He was discharged from hospital on 28 June 1918  still not totally fit  and was not posted back to the 2nd Battalion until 22 September 1918 when he was sent back to France.  He survived the remainder of the war and remained in France until 9 March 1919 finally being released from the Army on 18 October 1919.

Thomas returned home safely to his family – much to their relief I should imagine.

His cousin Derek also returned home safely.  He had joined the Royal Engineers (Gas Corps) and been gassed when the wind changed then had joined the RFC as a pilot.  He was wounded in the arm by a shot from another plane whilst on a bombing mission. His arm function was impaired which eventually affected his job as an analytical chemist.  Whilst in hospital recovering from his wound, Derek met his future wife Lilias when she came along with his cousin Greta to visit him.

His cousin Onie joined the WAAC but her service record has not survived.

As one of life’s coincidences Derek, Onie and Calder all married in Glasgow in the course of 1926.

Sadly Thomas died of pneumonia in 1929 leaving a wife and young son.

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