Lewis Brownjohn

1884 - 1916

Lewis was born in Oxford, and his father was a Local Preacher of the United Methodist Free Churches.

Son of a compositor

Lewis Charles Brownjohn was born in Oxford in 1884. His father, John Brownjohn, became a local preacher of the United Methodist Free Churches. He worked as a compositor, arranging type for printing, almost certainly at Oxford University Press.

Pupil teacher

Lewis was one of seven children, most of whom were baptised at Paradise Square Wesleyan Chapel. They lived mainly in the Jericho area of Oxford. Sadly in 1901 when Lewis was 16 and a pupil teacher, his youngest brother died aged three. By the 1911 census Lewis had moved to Manchester and worked as a teacher.

Battle of the Somme

Lewis volunteered in Manchester and joined the 17th Service Battalion of the Manchester Regiment as a Private. He arrived in France in November 1915 but his unit did not see action until the start of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916. They took heavy casualties over the next ten days and it was probably at that time that he was promoted to Sergeant.

Faced phosgene gas

Then on 30 July Lewis’s battalion took part in the Battle of Guillemont. Their attack was a costly failure because the German defence was particularly well organised. At the start they faced phosgene gas, and were probably the first British troops to experience this. Subsequently many were caught at short range by rifle and machine-gun fire. Lewis was killed that day, aged 31, but his body was not recovered. He is remembered on Thiepval Memorial. It is unclear why he is named on the Walton Street Methodist Church war memorial, but one of his brothers had children baptised there in 1915.




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