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David Brown (1883-)

Bede scholar who served in Salonika

David Brown was born on 11 June 1883 in Chevington, Northumberland. He was one of seven surviving children born to coal miner William and Elizabeth Brown. In 1891 the Brown family were living in Chevington, but had moved to Acklington by 1901. David, now 17, was working as a pupil teacher. Six years later, in 1907, David began studying at Bede College, a teacher training college in Durham where he remained for two years.

By the time of the 1911 census William had died and Elizabeth was head of the household. David was living with his mother and three siblings at 77 Swarland Terrace in Acklington. He was working as a school teacher along with his younger sister Mary. In 1914 David married Annie I Turnbull in Alnwick.

During the war David served with the Northumberland Fusiliers as a lance corporal. It is unclear exactly when he joined the army but by June 1917 he was serving in Salonica [Thessaloniki]. During his time in Salonica David wrote letters to Bede College which were published in their magazine. They give some insight into the conditions in Salonica at the time, particularly the great danger the men faced from contracting malaria. The letters tell of the precautions the men took to decrease the risk of contracting this disease.

David’s letters from Macedonia describe the day to day life for troops and often emphasise the dangers of malaria and dysentery. These diseases, which were rife in this area, killed more men than were killed in battle. David writes about the difficult and important task of providing troops with water in this area where these diseases were so common. An article David wrote in May 1918 highlights the difficulty for troops serving in Macedonia to travel to ‘Blighty’ for leave which sometimes led to those serving having leave in Salonica instead.

At the time of the 1939 register David was living in Morpeth with his wife, Annie, working as a schoolmaster. It is unclear whether the couple had children.

Civil Parish: Durham St. Giles

Birth date: 11-Jun-1883

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Broomhill Farm, East Chevington, Northumberland (1891 census)
Swarland Terrace, Acklington, Northumberland (1901 census)
77 Swarland Terrace, Acklington, Northumberland (1911 census, Bede admission register)
School House, Broomhill, Morpeth (1939 Register)

Education: Chevington North Boys’ School
Red Row Mixed School
Bede College, Durham 1907-1909

Employment: Teacher

Family: Parents: William Brown, Elizabeth Brown
Siblings: Thomas Brown, John Brown, William Brown, Catherine A Brown, Mary E Brown, Beatrice Brown
Wife: Annie I Brown nee Turnbull

Military service:

Northumberland Fusiliers
Lance Corporal

Gender: Male

Contributed by Fiona Johnson - Durham