Roll of Honour


John Rankine Brown


John Rankine Brown was, in a very special sense, a son of the manse, being the eldest son of the late Very Reverend Dr. Brown, of Bellahouston, and grandson of the Very Reverend Dr Rankine of Sorn. He was born on the 4th April 1886 in Galston, Ayrshire, and went to the High School of Glasgow when he was only nine years old. In due course he became dux on the classical side.

Memorial chapel at the University of Glasgow
The Memorial Chapel at the University of Glasgow

At the almost incredibly early age of fifteen he left the High School and entered the University of Glasgow, where in spite of his extreme youth he carried on his career of unbroken success, winning the Cowan Gold Medal in Latin and Greek, the Blackstone Medal in Greek, and the Luke Historical Prize for best examination in Ancient Greek and Roman History, finishing up with the Snell Exhibition and an inevitable First Class Honours in Classics.

At Oxford he was equally successful. He matriculated at Balliol in 1905, and secured First Classes in Classical Moderations, and in final school of Literae Humaniores. He also won the Ferguson Scholarship in Classics, which is open to graduates of the four Scottish Universities. These academic achievements were, however, only a small part of his activities. He took his full share in the intense intellectual and social life of his college, and it was during this period that he made many of his best and closest friends.

After graduation he decided to specialise in Ancient History, and acted for a short time as classical assistant in Armstrong College, Newcastle. He also studied in Berlin, travelled in Greece, Turkey and Asia Minor. Finally he was appointed to a Fellowship in Pembroke College, Oxford, and did most admirable work there as lecturer in Classics and Ancient History. During his residence in Berlin he became convinced that there was a serious danger of war between this country and Germany, and with his characteristic keen and practical sense of duty he decided that he ought to undergo some military training.

He received a Territorial commission in the 7th Bn. Highland Light Infantry, and was mobilised at the outbreak of war. He served in the Gallipoli campaign, and was invalided home in October 1915. In March 1916, he was sent to Egypt. Captain John Rankine Brown was mortally wounded in the Battle of Gaza on the 21st April 1917, and died on the 23rd. He is buried in the Deir El Belah War Cemetery.

Deir El Belah is in Palestine about 16 kilometres east of the Egyptian border, and 20 kilometres south-west of Gaza. Sadly, his brother, 2nd Lieutenant George James Rankine Brown also died in 1917. George he was wounded two days before John was wounded on the 21st April, before succumbing to his wounds on the 21st May 1917 in Mesopotamia.