Blue plaque unveiled for Leamington composer William Denis Browne - The Leamington Observer

Blue plaque unveiled for Leamington composer William Denis Browne

A COMPOSER and organist has been commemorated with a Blue Plaque in Leamington.

Family and friends of William Denis Browne gathered for the unveiling of the plaque at ‘Lynwood’, 23 Lillington Road, by Leamington mayor Coun Judith Clarke.

Browne attended Rugby School with his great friend Rupert Brooke and was by the renowned poet’s side when he died during the First World War.

Browne was born at the Lillington Road address in November 1888. He attended Greyfriars Preparatory School in Leamington, before going on to Rugby School. By the age of 15 he was running the choir and playing the organ for all Sunday services at Lillington’s St Mary Magdalene church

At Rugby, Brown met Brooke, and they greatly influenced each other, collaborating on poetry, set to music.

At Cambridge, where Browne continued his musical activities and took part in student theatrical productions. The Cambridge don Edward Joseph Dent rated him “by far the cleverest of the musicians” then at the university.

At the outbreak of The Great War, having both obtained a commission, Brooke and Denis Browne became temporary Sub Lieutenants in the newly formed Royal Naval Division, joining the Anson Battalion of the 2nd Naval Brigade.

They participated in the abortive Antwerp Expedition in October 1914, before being transferred to the Hood Battalion to join the force destined for Gallipoli.

When Brooke died during the journey from an infected insect bite, Denis Browne chose the site of his grave on Skyros, writing “none could have wished for a quieter or a calmer end than in that lovely bay, shielded by the mountains and fragrant with sage and thyme”.

Browne was mortally wounded in bayonet fighting in an attack on the Turkish trenches on June 4 1915. His body was never recovered.

He is commemorated on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial on Cape Helles, on the Lillington War Memorial, the Leamington War Memorial in Euston Place, and on his parents’ headstone in Mary Magdalene churchyard.

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