Compass and leather case : Captain M A Brown, 12 Light Horse Regiment, AIF

Place Middle East: Ottoman Empire, Palestine
Accession Number REL34513
Collection type Technology
Object type Technology
Physical description Brass, Glass, Leather, Mother of pearl (shell), Paint
Maker Unknown
Place made Switzerland, United Kingdom: England, West Midlands, Birmingham
Date made 1915
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Verners pattern VII prismatic dry card compass. The flip top cover has impressed 'VERNER'S PATTERN / VII'. A circular piece of glass is centrally mounted into this cover with a thin black vertical line dissecting the middle. On the cover is moulded a small semi-circular notch to open and close the cover with a finger. The glass face of the compass is adjustable if the small side mounted circular screw lock is twisted. A non-luminous rectangular shaped yellow-orange painted guide has been painted on the inside surface of the glass. Some of this paint appears to have been chipped off.

The outside edge of the magnetic circular plate is made from mother of pearl with the inner disc being made from a dark unknown substance. On this inner disc is painted a non-luminous yellow-orange coloured arrow to indicate magnetic North. The plate has a small brass screw attached to the inner surface. The body of the compass is made from brass. A folding triangular shaped prism is hinge mounted to the side of the compass body next to a movable round lanyard ring. The bottom surface of the lanyard ring is worn in two parts which correspond to the circular rubber base on the bottom of the compass. Around the entire outside surface of the compass body is impressed the cardinal and half-cardinal points and corresponding bearings in 5 and 10 degree increments. A finger actuated momentary bearing lock and sliding transit lock are fitted to the side of body. On the outside edge of reverse surface is hand etched '12 / LH / CAPT / M A BROWN'. A circular worn 8 mm wide rubber protective ring is centrally mounted with manufacturers markings etched within. 'B-L / MADE IN SWITZERLAND / No 27547 / 1915 / Government broad arrow'. An indent from the folded circular lanyard ring has been permanently impressed into the rubber.

One side of the egg shaped protective leather case has been hand etched 'CAPT / M A BROWN' on the folding flap cover and '12 LH' on the body of the case. 'Capt / M.A. Brown / 12 LH', written in pencil, can be seen when the flap is lifted. On the other side of the leather case is stamped into the folding flap cover a Government broad arrow with 'SHAW MOTOR ACCESS CS / 1915 / BIRMINGHAM'. On the outside of the protective cover is a small brass buckle for opening and closing the folding flap. The inside of the protective case is lined in a red brown felt. The adjustable carry strap has a small brass buckle attached. The carry strap is attached to the protective cover by three small leather loops.

History / Summary

This compass and leather case are associated with the service of Montague Ambrose 'Monte' Brown. Brown was born near Bega, NSW in 1899 and was educated at St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill. On leaving school he returned to the New South Wales south coast where he was active in the pre-war Australian Army militia, serving with 1 Light Horse as a trooper from 31 December 1909. On 1 April 1910 he was promoted to corporal and three months later to sergeant. In July 1912 he transferred to 28 Light Horse where he promoted to regimental sergeant major on 1 January 1913. Brown was offered a commission to 2nd lieutenant on 1 August 1913.

With the declaration of war in 1914 he was an early volunteer in the AIF. However, upon joining he reverted to the rank of trooper. He left Sydney in 1915 with the 12th Light Horse, bound for Egypt. The AIF eventually recognised his experience with the militia and on 4 May 1915 Brown was promoted to 2nd lieutenant. He was then dispatched to Gallipoli with his regiment where he was promoted to full lieutenant on 19 August 1915. With the end of the Gallipoli campaign, Brown returned to Egypt with his unit.

Brown served in Egypt and Palestine and on 9 September 1916 was promoted to the rank of captain. In 1917 he was transferred to the Indian Army for a five year engagement with the Imperial Government. During his time in India he served as a captain with 9 Hodson's Horse Cavalry Regiment and saw active service during the third Anglo-Afghan war between May and August 1919. On 8 November 1922 Brown's period of service with the Indian Army ended and he returned to Australia.

During the 1930s he lived in western NSW, and also spent time in the Hunter Valley. Brown served as a major with 16 Light Horse between December 1926 and August 1935. While with this regiment he was a Commanding Officer of 16 'Hunter River Lancers' Light Horse Regiment, with its Headquarters in East Maitland. After service with this unit he transferred to the 16 Machine Gun Battalion.

Considered too old for active service upon the declaration of the Second World War in September 1939,his first posting saw him first serve at the Prisoner of War and internment camp at Berrima in the Southern Highlands of NSW. After this posting he became the Group Commandant of the 22nd Garrison Battalion at the newly built Prisoner of War Camp No.12 at Cowra NSW. During his time at Cowra, the infamous 'Cowra breakout' occurred on the night of 5 August 1944. Brown left the military in 1947 and passed away in 1975.