History of Somme war hero Pte John Brownlee sought by relatives

Private John Brownlee
Private John Brownlee

The history of a decorated World War One soldier, killed in action at the Battle of the Somme, is being sought by his great great grandson.

Chris Andrews, a BBC producer/ radio newsreader, has sought help from the people of Lurgan to find out more about Private John Brownlee of the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers.

John Brownlee with Queen's Park FC. He is pictured on the far right with a towel over his shoulder

John Brownlee with Queen's Park FC. He is pictured on the far right with a towel over his shoulder

Pte Brownlee was a Bangalore torpedo specialist, who was killed in action at Beaumont-Hamel on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916.

His body was never found and he is remembered among the missing at Thiepval Memorial, as well as the war memorial in Lurgan.

Chris said: “It is my hope that there may be relatives or people with an interest in the town’s history who will be able to help me find out more information about him.

“According to the census, in 1911, John lived at 3 Robert Street in Lurgan with his wife Frances (maiden name Duprey) and children.”

Chris added: “One of their sons, Earnest, is my great-grandfather.

“At the time of John’s death, his widow is recorded as having moved to Combermere Street in Sandy Row in Belfast.

“Before the war, the census states that he worked as a farm labourer and an engine driver.

“John was also involved with Queen’s Park FC. He is pictured with a white towel over his shoulder at the far right of this image from 1912.

“ If anyone has more information about this photograph or the team, I would also like to hear from you.

“It has taken a lot of research to track down photographs and information, including the individual image of him in uniform, which I believe must date from 1915.

“ I am aware that this image was photocopied and used in an exhibition in Lurgan in 1996 to mark 80 years since the Battle of the Somme.

“I am interested in finding the original photograph and more information about the family in Lurgan,” said Chris.

If you have any information for Chris, you can contact him via email on chrisandrews_739@hotmail.com