Irchester man brings great-grandfather's story to life

The great-grandson of a soldier who died in the First World War has brought his story to life in a new book.

Saturday, 2nd December 2017, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th December 2017, 11:58 am

Robert Furness, who worked in Irchester and was a boot-maker with Green and Coe’s of Rushden, died in 1917 in Chérisy, France.

His great-grandson, Ken Brawn, has paid tribute to his ancestor with the publication of his book, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today, which chronicles Robert’s life.

As part of his research, Mr Brawn visited some of the places where Robert fought and paid his respects at his grave in the Chérisy cemetery.

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Irchester war memorial

Robert served with the 6th (Service) Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, before he was killed in action at the age of 35.

Much of Mr Brawn’s book, which includes details of other Irchester men who died during the war, is based on the 6th (Service) Battalion, The Northamptonshire Regiment War Diary.

As a child, Mr Brawn was aware that he had an ancestor who died in the First World War but as he got older, the absence of the name Brawn from Irchester’s war memorial initially stopped him from finding out more.

It wasn’t until Mr Brawn’s 63rd birthday that he found out more.

Irchester war memorial

Following an Ancestry link discussion with Sharon Brawn, he discovered the existence of Robert.

Mr Brawn said: “In my new book I’ve chronicled Robert’s life and also how I was so fortunate in being able, on three separate occasions, to walk in Robert’s footsteps, stand exactly where he stood and join him in battle exactly 100 years to the minute later – a surreal experience.”

During his research, Mr Brawn also discovered the significance of some of the dates in Robert’s life.

On November 19, 1915, Robert joined the Northamptonshire Regiment – 100 years later on November 20, 2015, Mr Brawn received an offer to work in France.

Mr Brawn said: “From my research, I found Robert to be a normal, ordinary boot-maker with Green and Coe’s and he lived a steady and rhythmic family life - that was until he was transformed into a trained killer who lived by the minute in a foreign land.

“As I delved deeper I wanted to know where and how he died. These questions caused a chain reaction of more questions.

“As I immersed myself into Robert’s war world, I put myself into his shoes and using my brother Kevin’s and my military experiences, I’ve tried to express what I think Robert may have felt and thought as his new life presented itself.”

Copies of For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today are available for £20 plus postage - anyone who is interested in having a copy can email Mr Brawn at [email protected].