Capt. David Westcott Brown (Leicestershire Regiment)
It has now been confirmed that David was killed in the fighting for Bazentin le Petit on July 14th. Although his body has not been found, a Sergeant reported seeing it.
Like many, David realised in the spring that the summer months ahead would see the launching of a new offensive. Foreseeing the high number of casualties amongst officers, he felt the need to prepare himself – and his family. He wrote to his cousin Lillian in May:
“…. I am writing like this because summer is here, and I don’t think our present peacefulness can go on much longer. People at home are beginning to wonder what they pay us for; and I think Death must come to many of us, if not to most (I am talking of officers now) before very long: and, if it does come to me, I don’t want you to feel it as a shock, and I don’t want you or anyone to grieve.
You know it is rather an honour to die now, to die for all that we hold precious, for our country, to die that we may live, and to die with so many better men.
I don’t want to die. I want to live and tell how I was in the War, how I was a fighter in it, not merely a server; but, if I do get killed, I want you and everyone to know that I knew of the possibility, that I was ready for it, and facing it, and not shirking and dodging the thought of it. It seems to me that for a man who is, if not ready or willing to die, at least aware of the presence of death, and looking it in the face not caring or wondering what lies beyond, Death has lost its power. When you cease to fear Death you have conquered it, and Death has become only a gate, no harder to pass through than the door of a room.
Am I just being morbid? I hope not; because I feel somewhat that should the worst happen it may help Mother and Dad to know that I was not caught by surprise, not realising what I was in for…”
David also wrote a poem around this time, when still behind the lines:
“The roads are all torn” ; “but the sun’s in the sky,”
“The houses are waste” ; “but the day is all fair,”
“There’s death in the air” ; “and the larks are on high,”
“Though we die – ” ; “it is spring-time, what do we care?”
“The gardens are rank” ; “but the grass is still green,”
“The orchards are shot-torn” ; “there’s a bloom on the trees,”
“There’s war all around” ; “yet is nature serene,”
“There’s danger” ; “we’ll bear it, fanned by the breeze.”
“Some are wounded” ; “they rest, and their glory is known,”
“Some are killed” ; “there’s peace for them under the sod,”
“Men’s homes are in peril” ; “their souls are their own,”
“The bullets are near us” ; “not nearer than God.”
David was a cousin of Percy Campbell (one of the first OPS casualties) and the godfather of a current young Dragon, Per Mallalieu.
He won a scholarship to Marlborough and then went to Balliol to read ‘Greats’, when war broke out and he joined up.