Major James Alexander Browning


James Alexander Browning was born in 1878, the son of Edward Campbell Browning and Louisa Pratt-Barlow who lived at Rushden House from 1901, (previously at Knuston Hall), Northamptonshire. He was educated at Eton and went on to Sandhurst. He was commissioned into the Queen's Bays as 2nd Lieut on 11 May 1898. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 16 Aug 1899 and on 16 Mar 1900 appointed ADC to Major-General H F Grant, Inspector General of Cavalry. He was a captain in 1901 and Adjutant, promoted to major in 1911. He fought in the Boer War as an officer in the Bays. In 1903 he married Lilian Brenda Fisher, daughter of Capt.J.B. Fisher, at St. Mary's church Higham Ferrers. They lived at Stonycroft in Aldershot and had two sons, but when war broke out in 1914 he went to France as second-in-command of the Queen's Bays.

He was in the thick of the fight at Nery on 1 Sep 1914. He wrote letters home describing the heroism of his colleagues in the battle and of the stampede of the Bays' horses: "My charger (Brune) had stampeded at Nery, due to my servant, but I found him next day with a man on his back, whom I quickly removed." He also described German vandalism: "The German's leave everything in a most awful state of filth and dirt, and smash everything. Two or three days ago we were billeted in a beautiful chateau and all the lovely things in it had been smashed." On 21st Oct 1914 He was placed in command of the regiment when Lt-Colonel Wilberforce was invalided. He was killed ten days later on Messines Ridge, on 31 Oct 1914, while standing out in the open getting the men to line a hedge, a position they had retired to 100 yards from the trenches, and form a firing line. There is a memorial to him in Rushden Cemetery.

A fuller account of his life is at: http://www.rushdenheritage.co.uk/war/memorial%20men/browningMajJA1914.html


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by Stephen Luscombe