Under-age soldier wins the pride of his strict father

A plaque from Fell Lane Wesleyan Sunday School which includes the name of FIrst World War soldier Oscar Brown

Keighley born sergeant Oscar Brown who signed up to fight in the First World War despite being too young

First published in Keighley

The Keighley News is publishing a weekly tribute to the bravery of district residents during the First World War.

Stories of courageous members of the Armed Forces have been unearthed through research by Keighley’s Men of Worth Project.

These will be highlighted each week in the run-up to August’s centenary of the outbreak of conflict.

The Men of Worth Project invites readers to contact them with stories about their heroic ancestors during the First World War. Email andy@menofworth.org.uk, contact him on 07792 665336 or write to 21, Providence Crescent, Oakworth, West Yorkshire BD22 7QU.

Alternatively, email david.knights@keighleynews.co.uk or write to the Keighley News, 80-86 North Street, Keighley BD21 3AG.

Oscar Brown enlisted in the Army just before the First World War even though he was too young.

His father Othello discovered the teenager had been to the recruitment office in Keighley and went along to find out what had happened.

Othello was given the chance of pulling Oscar out of the army due to his young age, but he agreed to let the boy stay in.

In fact, Othello was so proud that when Oscar came home on leave he took him to his local Conservative Club to show him off.

By the time the war started Oscar was serving in the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment.

He managed to stay alive for two years before being killed in action on September 9, 1916.

According to research by the Men of Worth Project. Oscar had grown up a tall handsome man who loved Ireland and the Irish.

A spokesman said: “Oscar's father had been a very strict man towards him while he was in his youth.

“He became very proud of Oscar when he came home on leave, looking so smart in his uniform and especially when he became a sergeant.”

Oscar never took up the Catholic faith, although it is believed he carried a rosary.

During the early years of the war Oscar was gassed and was sent home to recover. He could hardly walk to the shops with his mother because of his difficulty breathing.

Oscar later died during a battle at Delville Wood, near Longueval, a German stronghold which had to be by the Allies before they could advance.

The strongpoint was taken with heavy losses, but the victorious Allied troops were subsequently shelled by the Germans.

It is unclear whether Oscar was killed in the attack of the subsequent shelling.

He is buried at Delville Wood Cemetery.

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