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I received an IM from 'kimj' - member Kim Johansson in Sweden. He thought that as I'm in Sth. Africa I might be able to help with a question.

I will put his letter on below and in the next thread show a few details I have found - hopefully other members will be able to add their thoughts ?

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Born December 1862 in Sweden apparently.

PETER BROWN

Trooper, Cape Mounted Riflemen

Born: December 1862, Sweden

Died: 11 September 1894, Cape Town, South Africa

Citation:

Trooper Peter Brown, during the assault on Moirosi's Mountain on 8th April, 1879, whilst lying under cover waiting for the order to re-commence the advance, heard two men, who had been wounded some time before, crying out for water. Trooper Brown carried a water-bottle to these men, under a heavy fire, to an adjacent rock to which they had crept for shelter. Whilst giving the first man water he was wounded severely in the right thigh, and immediately afterwards a bullet shattered his right arm, the use of which he has never recovered.

[London Gazette issue 24833 dtd 13 Apr 1880, published 13 Apr 1880.]

Edited by leigh kitchen

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From my volumes on VC awards, this appears to be all that is known about Peter BROWN VC. The photo is probably the only one of him, since I have found it used as the ref. in a number of books.

The research notes show that he was awarded the 383rd. VC given out. The action was Moirosi's Mountain during the 9th. Kaffrarian War. He died in South Africa in Sept. 1894 of Bright's Disease - I think this is kidney's, so he may have had an alcohol problem ? He is shown as being born in Sweden in Dec. 1862 - hence Kim's question.

Chief Moirosi was a known trouble maker who incited his tribe in unrest against the British in the Eastern Cape. The British Authorities sent an expedition to deal with him - however, he had been preparing a 'fortress' near the Free State borders and Basutoland. He retreated into this and as it was on a high hill , and he had stocked it with cattle, he was fairly impregnable. Two attacks were made on the mountain and both were driven back with losses. We used both 7lb. and 12 lb. cannons. Finally, it was decided that a night attack would be made and the main part of the Force were 350 men of the Cape Mounted Rifles. Trooper Brown was part of this Force - they attacked 8th April 1879. He was severley wounded but continued to help his comrades and was awarded the VC for his bravery.

Sadly, he seems to have been buried in a plot in Capetown, that already belonged to someone - and there is , apparantly , no gravestone for him. The photos show the original grave marked out with sticks.

Now, we come to Kim's question. Why is he shown as being of Swedish origins, but having a British surname ? I don't think this is a big mystery. During the second half of the 19th Century there were bands of people emigrating and roaming all around the World - basically, using the new freedom of easier transport to better them selves. Possibly, Brown was one of these people and first came to Sth. Africa with his original Swedish name. However, this could have been difficult to pronounce or, spell and I think it very likely that he would take a

British name to fit-in. Also, it is very possible, that on joining the C.M.R. they just gave him a name for the rolls. If I am correct, then it may be almost impossible to trace him back - Rick may well have some thoughts on this ?

What do other members think ?

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Whats Swedish for Peter Brown? Although it seems a pretty common name to an Englishman.

Pete

Edited by wood

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Per and then something that must have sounded like "Brown." I've never seen a Swedish COLOR name--it would have been Brun. My families were all biological or landscape sorts of names-- "leafy" and "woodsy" sorts. Family names were not standardized in Sweden until the Napoleonic era, so they escaped some of the antique-survivals of nations with older name traditions. The most common was the Scandinavian system still used in Iceland of simply adding "son of" or "daughter of" to names.

Sven's son Johann would be Johann Svensson but Johann's son Stig would be Stig Johannson etc.

Then again, in 1862, Norway was part of Sweden, so maybe it is actually more common for a color name there?

16 1/2 still sounds questionably young. Even if he had lied about his age to enlist, a teen who'd managed to reach the far end of Earth on his own back then was probably under-sized from poor diet. A BIG farm lad would have stayed home and had an edge over his competitors.

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Although this has nothing to do with Brown, the next entry in the book was also for the engagement on Moirosi's Mountain and also, for a member of Cape Mounted Rifles. He is award number 384 and is Lt. Col. Robert George SCOTT VC, DSO.

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I don't think he was Norwegian as Norway and Sweden were two countries in a personal union (two parliaments,one king) at the time, if Brown was Norwegian he'd certainly have proudly stated that fact when signing up for service. One thought, Rick is on to an interesting theory as to the name, but what if he had one of these "impossible" Scandinavian names? The truth could very well be that if he had brown hair, he'd settle for Brown at sign-up. Brun (Brown) is a possible name on both sides of the Norwegian-Swedish border, in Sweden it could well indicate him having an ancestor (father?) who served as an allotted soldier in Sweden, but again as Rick says, -son names were the common practice in Sweden then (or -dotter for women). As to Brown's age when winning the VC, weren't there even younger recipients?

/Jonas

Edit: Wikipedia states his year of birth as 1837, thus giving him a perhaps more plausible age. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Brown_(VC)

Edited by GRA

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I think that the reply by Jonas is most likely correct. One of my relatives came to the US from Belgium in 1772 and changed his surname from 'Aerts' to 'Smith.' It would seem to be a rather common thing in the 18th and 19th Centuries for immigrants with hard to pronounce names to change their names to common US names such as Brown, Smith, etc. Gunner 1

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I think that the reply by Jonas is most likely correct. One of my relatives came to the US from Belgium in 1772 and changed his surname from 'Aerts' to 'Smith.' It would seem to be a rather common thing in the 18th and 19th Centuries for immigrants with hard to pronounce names to change their names to common US names such as Brown, Smith, etc. Gunner 1

I think that the name change Peter Brown is the most probable. As Gunner says it was a very common occurance for a immigrant to chnage their name from something the local population found different/scary/difficult to pronounce, to something more "normal". Peter Brown is as plain and "normal" as they come!

I think that it would be unlikely for a 16 1/2 year old to travel half way around the world under his own steam too. More likely he was taken by his family when they emigrated en masse and he grew up there.

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Thank for the help with this Mervyn. :cheers:

Peter Brown was born, according to his death certificate, in November 1832. So he wasn't exactly a young boy when he got the VC.

Today when I checked 140 individuals had the last name BRUN in Sweden. But then again 434 were named BROWN. :speechless: However I doubt that there were many Brown in 1832. So perhaps he changed his name when he came to South Africa. He might even have lied about being Swedish. On the other hand if he died of alcohol related illness, that sounds like a Swede on the 1800s.

Is it IMPOSSIBLE to come to the bottom of this? Are there any immigrant lists in South Africa? What ways are my options?

I have attached a small pic that I got from the museum that has Brown's VC in SA.

PS Today a total of 12 197 people have the name Lundström... :ninja:

Edited by kimj

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Kim - I think the concensus of opinion is that he changed his name on coming to a new country. That, or it was given at immigration. Ellis Island Immigration Dept. in New York, was notorious for giving anglicised names to immigrants with difficult ones.

I would say that his origins of being Swedish are correct. There would be a place on the forms for 'Country of origin (or birth)' and this would have been filled-in corrrectly. The problem will be getting access to the original forms - even if they still exist.

The Rolls for CMR are not likely to show anything further then Sweden - it is the immigration papers you will need, to see where he came from and if he changed his name.

Immediately, two problems come-up - an original name is not known, and did he come-on his own or, with a family. I live 1800 kms. from Capetown and am not in a position to call on the different offices. Perhaps another member will have some contacts or, knowledge of how to access the records for immigrants in the 19th. Century ? You could also ask the Swedish Embassy to make an official request.

Whilst we regard this as an interesting enquiry , the real truth is that it is of some importance. Has any Swedish person - apart from Brown -ever been awarded what is regarded as the World's Highest Bravery Decoration ?

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Are there passenger lists available for Sweden to South Africa (assuming the "Brown" family set off for SA from Sweden), as there are for so many other journeys either on sites such as "Ancestry" or posted on web sites?

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It would be interesting if there was some official record on immigrants to south Africa. But from my Swedish connection I was told that the records were searched and nothing came up. I need to ask him if it was only military records or everything available. I doubt that the Swedish embassy in SA would have any interest in this. If you're VOLVO or SAAB I'm sure you would get help. A question on a guy born more than 100 years ago, perhaps not so much.

Peter Brown is the only Swede to be awarded the VC. So think it's very interesting to get his story right.

Leigh: There are of course records, even a CD, of emigrants from Sweden. But there are about 900.000 Swedes to sort out. Most went to the USA but some elsewhere. But, like you point out, how can one be sure that he wrote "I'm going to South Africa" and was registered as such. If he just took a trip to England and decided to go to Africa from there, would he be on the list? Anyway the CD is on my to-do-list

/Kim

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Two other possible end-runs:

1) Naturalization records. My 1833 Stockholm-born great-grandfather (who, BTW always appears as "John" so I have no idea if he was Jan, Jens, Johann, Johannes.....) had to raise his paw and renounce all allegiance forever to King Oscar.

2) Church records. Even if "Brown" was not a Lutheran (mine had wandered into being Baptists and ended up like Queen Christina as Catholics :speechless1: ) the Established Church Gestapo Overseas noted every new arrival and reported back to the home land.

I've seen the local pastor's report to Stockholm noting my great-grandparents' arrival and noting their lack of Lutheran orthodoxy. :shame:

Oddly enough, I've never met anyone (besides my own family of course) here with my name. Everyone always cocks their heads like a parrot, closes one eye, and squawks "Lindstrom? Lindstrom?" at me. Some of them even hunch their shoulders and drag their feet like Shakespeare's "Richard III" while they try to figure my name out. This in a county with people with those lovely Polish names like Wczszyszclewszky. :banger:

Wish I knew who the heck that Lindstrom who made such a vast population-wide impression was-- because I've never met one of THEM, either.

(And I was born in the largest "Swedish" city outside of the home country...)

Maybe "Brown" really WAS a "Brun." With that rare (toldjaz :catjava: ) a name, might make searching "easier" though of course his birth year wandering across DECADES doesn't help. :banger:

Is there no full excruciatingly complicated paperwork on V.C. nominations that might actually specify all that?

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Just a small note to remind you guys that pregnant women are allowed to travel.... my youngest daughter concieved in Scotland and with a Scottish name just happened to be in Australia when she was born.. so is Australian, if we'd been in transit over to S. Africa to live, it would have happened an Australian won the VC in S.Africa. I actually know a good half dozen people born "on the move" so to speak, they are all technically of the country of birth origin, though they are all Scottish to all intents and purposes.

C

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Guest Darrell

...

16 1/2 still sounds questionably young. Even if he had lied about his age to enlist, a teen who'd managed to reach the far end of Earth on his own back then was probably under-sized from poor diet. A BIG farm lad would have stayed home and had an edge over his competitors.

As a sidenote, there have been 2 awards of the VC to "soldiers" (if you call them that) who were 15 years old :speechless1:

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Erich - they are possibly in the Capetown Old Fort - which I think has a museum attached. Alternatively, The Cape Archives. They would need to be the original Muster Rolls - the medal rolls only show who was in that engagement. I have a number of these, but Brown does not seem to feature and I don't have the roll for Moirosi's Mountain.

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Peter Brown

Dear Sirs

My name is Stefan Hallberg and I´m the person mentioned in Kim Johanssons mail. As stated there, we have been trying to solve this mystery since 2002.

Over the years about 40 persons have been engaged in the research, but we have not been able to solve this mystery so far.

Among the people involved I can mention Doug Arman, Ian Uys and Graham Lloyd. The latter a researcher from Cape Town who helped us a lot. Scanning all archives in Cape Town, specially those regarding CMR.

We did manage to track down a collegue of Peter Brown, Nicolas Frederic Bergqvist, from the city of Mora here in Sweden. Bergqvist entered service at about the same time as Brown retired.

A clue to solving the mystery of Peter Brown is the expression “the swedish born”. It´s always stated that way and nobody has been able to explain to me the origin of this expression. I´ve read many books, the old ones as well, but I havent found any explenation.

There are however 2 “stones” left to be turned in South Africa:

- If any of you is living close to Johannesburg I would be much grateful if he or she could take a look at the material archived there att the military museum by Ian Uys. I could contain some information that could be of help. I´ve had a mail exchange with Ian Uys about his material but he could not remember any details.

- The second thing is that Peter Brown is called Peder Bruun in a mail from Lt Col Cumming OBE tol Lt Col C C Calbertyn. If any of you know any of this persons, it would be interesting to get a clearification to the nam Peder Bruun. I think those two persons live in Cape Town and are”were connected to CMR.

As far as I can recall I´ve never been in contact with Kim. Please feel free to mail me at stefan.hallberg1@tele2.se.

There is a lot more to tell you about the research but I´ll save that for later.

Best regards

Stefan Hallberg

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Stefan, welcome to the forum. I emailed you in October about the subject and thought it would be worth a shot posting here. Award collectors are usualy very knowledgeable when it comes to awards and their history but seem to draw a blank in this case.

Good luck with your quest.

/Kim

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Just a small note to remind you guys that pregnant women are allowed to travel.... my youngest daughter concieved in Scotland and with a Scottish name just happened to be in Australia when she was born.. so is Australian, if we'd been in transit over to S. Africa to live, it would have happened an Australian won the VC in S.Africa. I actually know a good half dozen people born "on the move" so to speak, they are all technically of the country of birth origin, though they are all Scottish to all intents and purposes.

C

I was thinking exactly the same thing! I was born in the USA, of two Canadian parents, and while the US government apparently still claims me (I've never actually written them to say 'No thanks' to US citizenship) I'm Canadian legally and emotionally, by upbringing and by inclination. As the Duke of Wellington said, when being twitted on being born in Ireland, "Not everything that comes out of a stable is a horse." Perhaps Peter Brown was the son of some enterprising Briton who was travelling, working or fighting in or for Sweden. Doesn't make him a Swede, though, does it? Fascinating puzzle though, however it turns out!

Edited by peter monahan

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To Kim

You are right. Now I remember. We did have a mailexchange regarding Peter Brown. It´s this thing with age. Your memory seems to slip.

To Peter

Good point there. Your hypoteses i probably correct, but if it is, somebody must have known that he was just born in Sweden. It must be a person who know Peter Brown very well. Cant see who that could be.

best regards

Stefan Hallberg

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Dear Sirs

I would lika to add another part to the mystery of Peter Brown VC.

According to Graham Lloyd, the researcher in South Africa who helps me, the grave number given in David Harveys book, 81594A, leads to a place in the middle of nowhere. There is no sign of a grave whatsoever at that place, and there is absolutly no reuse by any Abrahamses as stated in the book.

I had a short mailexchange with David Harvey about this, but before he had the possibility to check this, he passed away.

Is there anybody who would lika to comment on this.

regards

Stefan Hallberg

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It has been quite common in British graveyards over the past few years, to remove old unvisited graves. This frees up space. The photo of the original grave was definite on how it belonged to someone else, so, in all probability there will be no trace of him.

I very much doubt that the mystery will ever be solved. He probably came here as a migrant and either had his name changed - or, did so himself - leaving only reference to his Country of origin.

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