David Harold Binns Brown

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

General information


Army information

New Zealand
New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Trentham, Wellington, New Zealand
 —  New Zealand Machine Gun Corps, 1st Coy.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
's Gravenstafel, Passchendaele, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 ‘Place of death’

My story

David Harold Binns Brown, a former carpenter, was born in Auckland, New Zealand. He was the son of Frederick William and Ellen McKelvie. On February 8th, 1916, he enlisted in Trentham, Upper Hutt, New Zealand. He embarked for Europe at Wellington on May 31, 1916, landing in at Devonport on the 26th of July. David Brown served as a private in the 1st New Zealand Machine Gun Company, part of the 1st New Zealand Brigade, of the New Zealand Division.

On the 4th of October 1917 the 1st New Zealand Machine Gun Company took part in the Battle of Broodseinde. The New Zealand Division planned to attack with the 1st Brigade and 4th Brigade. They occupied the about 1800 metres long frontline from Vale House to Dochy Farm. The 2nd Brigade was placed in reserve. The attack had two objectives. The first objective or “Red Line” lay about 450 metres from the jump-off line, just beyond s’ Gravenstafel. “Blue Line”, the second objective, lay about 450 metres east of “Red Line”. All New Zealand Machine Gun Companies would take part in this battle. The 2nd, 3rd, and Divisional Companies and one section of the 1st and 4th Companies would do barrage work. The remaining sections of the 1st and 4th New Zealand Machine Gun Companies would be attached to the attacking 1st Brigade and 4th Brigade respectively.

In the night between October 2nd/3rd ammunition was brought up to the front. The barrage guns were split into three groups. “A” and “B” group would provide covering fire during the attack on the first objective. The guns of “A” group were set up near Hill 35, those of “B” group between Fortuin and Somme. “C” group would support the attack on the second objective and was initially placed forward, from Fokker Farm running along the Zonnebekestraat. This position proved to be unsuitable, however, and they were moved forward again, closer to the front line held by the infantry.

At 5.25 a.m. on October 4th, 1917, the 1st Brigade and 4th Brigade attacked. The guns of “A” and “B” groups fired until 8.10 a.m. Then “C” group opened fire during the push for the final objective. Their guns ceased at 9.10 a.m. While “C” group fired, “A” and “B” group moved forward, except for 12 guns from “A” group. These guns remained in their initial position and became the divisional reserve. The barrage guns were relieved on the morning of the 6th.

It's unclear what the 1st New Zealand Machine Gun Company did on the 4th of October as their war diary is very vague: “4th October. Attacked 6 a.m. with success; casualties 25 per cent. Counter-attacks defeated.” Major J.H. Luxford, the author of the official history of the New Zealand Machine Gun Corps, writes the following: “It is unfortunate that it is impossible to give details of the action of the two sections of the 1st Company that went forward with the 1st Brigade, but the records are too meagre to give a sufficient clue to enable the writer to even conjecture what took place.” What we do know is that the 1st Brigade started their attack near Wurst Farm, crossed the Hanebeek and were dug-in close to the second objective near Waterloo by the end of October 4th.

David Brown, aged 22, was killed in action on the 4th of October 1917. It’s unclear if he attacked with the 1st Brigade or if he was posted in the section tasked with barrage duty. Private Brown has no known grave and is remembered on panel 9 of the New Zealand Apse of the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Files 1

Sources 5

Baker, Chris. "New Zealand Division." The Long, Long Trail. Consulted on 10.6.2022.
Sources used
Cenotaph of Brown, David Harold Binns. Online Cenotaph, Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Sources used
Luxford, John H. With the Machinegunners in France and Palestine : The official history of the New Zealand Machine Corps in the Great World War 1914-1918. (Uckfield: The Naval & Military Press Ltd, 1923), 86-91.
Sources used
McCarthy, Chris. Passchendaele : The Day-by-Day account (London: Unicorn Publishing Group, 2018), 112-114.
Sources used
Personnel file of Brown, David Harold Binns. Archives New Zealand, New Zealand Defence Force, Personnel Archives, Box 3, Record 0018783
Sources used

More information 4