Soldier's pay book : Sergeant W E Brown, 20 Battalion AIF

Place Europe: Western Front
Accession Number REL24300.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Linen, Paper
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London
Date made c 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Soldier's pay book, serial number 29169, with light brown glazed linen cover. Additional number 79817 stamped on first page. Period covers 23 October 1915 - 1 November 1919. Owner's pay details printed on front cover: 'Pay-Book No. 85022; Surname, Brown; Christian Names, W E; Regimental No. 1689A; Unit, 20 Battalion'. Last page notes awards of Distinguished Conduct Medal and Victoria Cross and dates of two 'Wound Stripes'. Book also covers next of kin information and vaccination history.

History / Summary

This pay book was the property of 1689 Sergeant Walter Ernest 'Wally' Brown VC DCM of 20 Battalion AIF. Brown was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions during fighting near Passchendaele, Belgium between 5-10 October 1917.

The following year he was awarded the Victoria Cross for capturing 13 German troops, including an officer, single handedly, near Accroche Wood following the Battle of Hamel. He returned to Australia in December 1919 and was discharged on 15 February 1920.

On 21 June 1940 he re-enlisted (NX35492) in the 2nd AIF. With 2/15 Field Regiment he moved to Malaya in August 1941 and was in Singapore when it fell to the Japanese on 15 February 1942. Brown was last seen in the hours prior to the capitulation disappearing toward the enemy lines saying 'No surrender for me.' He was posted as missing on 16 February 1942 and presumed dead on the 28th. His body was never recovered.

His name is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial, 22 kilometres north of the city of Singapore. Walter Ernest Brown VC DCM was survived by a wife and two children though their seven year old son died of meningitis the following year.