Alven Henry Jesse Brown was born in Chailey about October 1869. He did not originally feature on this website for the simple fact that his name was not recorded in the Reverend Jellicoe’s monthly roll call of serving men. Thankfully though, Alven’s extensive service record (comprising over 40 separate pages) exists in the WO 364 pension series at the National Archives and I therefore summarise his military service below.
He attested with the East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) at Canterbury, Kent on 25th January 1887, enlisting for a period of seven years with the Colours and five on the Reserve. He gave his place of birth as Chailey, his age as eighteen years and three months and his trade as labourer. In answer to the question, “Have you resided out of your father’s house for three years continuously in the same place…” he answered, “Yes, Cheltenham” and also indicated that he was currently serving with the 4th East Kent Regiment, a militia outfit.
Alven was short – five feet four and a quarter inches – weighed 122lbs, had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. Two moles on his right forearm and let shoulder blade are noted as distinctive marks. His next of kin is noted as his father, Joseph Brown; brother, James Brown and sister Mary Brown, all living in Chailey.
Alven was posted to the 2nd Battalion of the East Kent Regiment and given the service number 2207. Two years later he was granted his first Good Conduct Badge. He carried out all of his soldiering in the UK and was discharged on 24th January 1899.
During this time he also married Florence Annie Head at Bromley on 10th October 1891.
He enlisted for a second time, in the Royal Southern Reserve Regiment (number 1966) on 27th March 1900, this time giving his trade as gardener. His term of service was one year at home and he was consequently discharged on 26th March 1900.
On 26th August 1901 he enlisted for a third time, this time with the Royal Garrison Regiment (number 3362) for a period of two years (which he extended for four years in June 1903). He remained in the UK for two weeks and was then posted to Malta where he served from 20th September 1901 until 20th April 1904. He then sailed for South Africa, serving there between 21st April 1904 and 2nd October 1905. On his Royal Garrison Regiment papers, his next of kin is recorded as his wife, Florence Brown of 49 Albert Road, Penge, London SE, his sons Edward, Walter and George and his daughters Annie and Edith, all living at home with their mother.
He was discharged from The Royal Garrison Regiment on 16th October 1905 and immediately re-enlisted as a regular with The Buffs the following day. He enlisted for a period of three years with the Colours and nine on the Reserve and was given his fourth army service number: 8179. His wife’s home address is noted on these papers as 7 Pembroke Road, Widmore, Bromley, Kent.
Alven was discharged on 18th July 1909 aged 40 years and nine months and elected to receive a War Office pension of eight pence per day for life.
When the First World War was declared, Alven Brown enlisted for a fifth time, joining The Buffs’ Special Reserve (number S/667) on 30th September 1914. He was now 44 years old and enlisted for a period of one year “unless War lasts longer than one year, in which case you will be retained until War is over.”
Alven remained with The Buffs until 30th June 1917 when he transferred to The Labour Corps, finally being discharged on 28th March 1919. Children noted on his First World War service papers are Herbert Arthur Brown (born 3rd April 1907), John Brown (born 10th December 1908) and Horace Brown (born 7th October 1911). His wife’s address is now noted as 1 Buffs Cottage, Rumfields, Ramsgate, Kent.
Not content that he had done with soldiering, Alven Brown enlisted for a sixth and final time with The 47th Battalion of The Royal Fusiliers on 23rd June 1919. His new number was G/132630 and his period of service was to last until 30th April 1920. In actual fact he was demobbed twelve days after this but with so much service under his belt, it hardly mattered and one gets the feeling, reading through his papers that he would have been quite happy to continue in the army indefinitely.
Alven Brown died in Ramsgate of heart disease on 11th December 1944 aged 75. His son George registered his death.