John Cassells Browne

Major John Cassells Browne died on 9th August 1944 when 'D' Company 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry came under machine-gun attack in Normandy, France.

Major John Cassells Browne (89229) served in 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry during World War Two. He was the son of Robert John Browne and Eliza J Browne of Glengormley, Co. Antrim, and husband of Agnes Nesbitt Browne.

Before the outbreak of the Second World War, Browne, known to family and friends as Jack, was a member of the Officer Training Corps. He then became a 2nd Lieutenant in 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry on 17th June 1939.

By 8th January 1940, Jack was in France with the British Expeditionary Force. He travelled with Sergeant Green ahead of the Battalion to ready billets. In May 1940, Browne was “on leave”. War diaries do not indicate if he was in France during the retreat to Dunkirk.

Ships at Dunkirk

Imperial War Museum Photo: C 1720 (Part of the Air Ministry Second World War Official Collection). British ships arrive off the beaches at Dunkirk around 3rd June 1940. Smoke billows in the air from burning oil storage tanks. Copyright Royal Air Force Official Photographer.

After Dunkirk, the Durham Light Infantry reorganised. Jack joined 16th Battalion on 1st July 1940, 14th Battalion in October 1941, and 11th Battalion on 5th December 1943. On the disbanding on 11th Battalion, he joined 6th Battalion, part of 50th Infantry Division. He landed with 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry on D-Day and fought through Normandy, rising through the ranks. He became a Major on 27th June 1944.

By August 1944, Browne was an acting Captain in command of ‘D’ Company as they advanced on La Cannardiere. German infantry retaliated with a machine-gun barrage. By then a Major, Browne died on 9th August 1944 aged 28 years old. He was one of many men from the Durham Light Infantry killed before they could dig into defensive positions.

Bayeux Military Cemetery

Rows of thousands of white grave markers in the British Commonwealth Military Cemetery on the outskirts of Bayeux. Photo taken on 8th June 2014.

John Cassells Browne’s grave is in Section XXI, Row A, Grave 10 of Bayeux War Cemetery, Bayeux, Normandy, France. Initially, a field burial took place at Caiville but reinterment took place on 4th September 1945. His headstone bears the inscription:

To live in the hearts of those we love and leave behind is not to die.