William Edward Brown, a baker from Modbury, Devon, was born on 16 June 1887. Enlisting in the Royal Navy on 3 July 1908.
He was served on H.M.S. Carnarvon at the start of the Great War and was present at the Battle of the Falklands on 8 December 1914.
He latterly served in H.M.S. Attentive which screened the Zeebrugge Raid on 25 April 1918,
The served in Murmansk in support of British forces service during the Russian Civil War.
Promoted Stoker Petty Officer on 5 January 1920, he was awarded his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal on 17 July 1923.
He appears to have left the service on 31 October 1928.
H.M.S Carnarvon and the Battle of the Falklands:Upon arrival at Port Stanley on 7 December, Sturdee informed his captains that he planned to recoal the entire squadron the following day from the two available colliers and to begin the search for the East Asia Squadron, believed to be running for home around the tip of South America, the day after. Vice-Admiral Maximilian von Spee, commander of the German squadron, had other plans and intended to destroy the radio station at Port Stanley on the morning of 8 December. The appearance of two German ships at 07:30 caught Sturdee’s ships by surprise, but the Germans were driven off by 12-inch (300 mm) shells fired by the predreadnought battleship Canopus when they came within range around 09:20. Carnarvon completed recoaling at 08:00 and the squadron cleared the harbour by 10:30. Sturdee ordered “general chase” at that time, but Carnarvon could only manage 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) and fell behind the other British ships. His two battlecruisers were the fastest ships present and inexorably began to close on the German cruisers, opening fire at 12:55 that straddled the light cruiser Leipzig, the rear ship in the German formation. It was clear to Spee that his ships could not outrun the battlecruisers and that the only hope for any of his ships to survive was to scatter. So he turned his two armoured cruisers around to buy time by engaging the battlecruisers and ordered his three light cruisers to disperse at 13:20. Carnarvon, now 10 nautical miles (19 km; 12 mi) behind, had no hope of catching the scattering German ships and continued to trail the battlecruisers.
Carnarvon finally came within range of the German armoured cruisers and opened fire shortly before Scharnhorst rolled over and capsized at 16:17. She then engaged Gneisenau until Sturdee ordered “cease fire” at 17:50. The German captain had started to scuttle his ship 10 minutes earlier when it was clear that the situation was hopeless and his ship sank at 18:00. Carnarvon rescued 20 survivors from Gneisenau, but only wreckage was visible when she later steamed through the area where Scharnhorst had sunk.
After the battle she participated in the hunt for the light cruiser Dresden that had escaped during the battle and investigated anchorages in Argentina, Chile and the island of South Georgia before proceeding north to Brazil in February. She struck a coral reef off the Abrolhos Archipelago on 22 February 1915 and had to be beached to avoid sinking. The ship received temporary repairs at Rio de Janeiro the following month. Carnarvon received permanent repairs in Montreal, Canada, from May to July after which she escorted several British H-class submarines from Halifax to the United Kingdom en route to Devonport. She then returned to Halifax where she was based for the rest of the year. Now assigned to the North America and West Indies Station, she resumed her duties protecting British shipping for the rest of the war
H.M.S Attentive Zeebrugge Raid and Russia:
She spent most of the First World War as part of the Dover Patrol. On 7 September 1915 she became an early victim of air power. While supporting a naval bombardment of German positions at Ostend, Attentive was bombed, suffering eight casualties. The air attack forced the squadron to briefly disperse, before returning to carry out the bombardment. Attentive screened the raiding force during the Zeebrugge Raid on 25 April 1918 and recovered part of the ship’s crew of the concrete-filled cruiser Sirius after she had detonated her demolition charges. Later that year the ship began escorting convoys to Gibraltar. She spent a few months off Murmansk, North Russia, supporting British forces intervening in the Russian Civil War. Attentive was paid off in December 1918, after hostilities ended, and was sold for scrap in April 1920.