William Fisher Brownlee


May 31, 1882                      Born at Dalhousie Township, Lanark County, Ontario


From 1902 to 1905 inclusive, attended the Arts program at Queen’s University at Kingston Ontario



Jan 2, 1915

Attached to the 21st Battalion from the 42nd Regiment as an instructor


Jan 14, 1915

Attested into the 21st Battalion at Kingston Ontario 

Ø      Appointed to rank of Lieutenant

Ø      Next of kin given as William Brownlee (father) of McDonald’s Corners, Ontario

Ø      Previous occupation given as Civil Engineer

Ø      Previous military experience given as 42nd Regiment

Ø      Religion given as Presbyterian

Ø      Assigned to No 2 Company

o       Later reorganized into “A” Company


May 6, 1915

Embarked the RMS Metagama at Montreal Quebec



May 15, 1915

Disembarked at Devonport England and proceeded to West Sandling Camp, near Hythe Kent


Aug 9, 1915

Shown in War Diary as a Platoon Commander in “C” Company


Sep 14, 1915

Embarked the St Seiriol at Folkestone



Sep 15, 1915

Disembarked at Boulogne France and proceeded to St Omer


Nov 14, 1915

Attended Bombing Course


Nov 20, 1915

At duty from Bombing Course


May 1, 1916

Granted 10 days leave


May 10, 1916

At duty from leave


Aug 1, 1916

Attended the 3rd Course at the Second Army Central School of Instruction at Wisques 

There is no indication in the file for his return date


Sep 16, 1916         Killed in Action


From the book Ordinary Heroes by Stephen J Nichol, page 90


Because his body could not be identified at time of burial, he is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial, Vimy Ridge, France

Below is a memorial placed in a family plot in the Crawford Cemetery, near McDonald's Corners, Ontario
Above photo supplied by grandson, Jim Brownlee


Jan 2, 1917

Mentioned in Despatches per London Gazette #29890



Feb 17, 1921

Beginning on this date, and on subsequent dates, the following were sent to his brother, David Jas. Brownlee, at Sinclair Manitoba 

1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal

There was no Memorial Cross issued as he was single and his mother was deceased


Below is the certificate granting his Commission in the CEF

Medals photo courtesy of owner


The Perth Courier April 14, 1916

LIEUT. FISHER BROWNLEE who led the 21st in the bombing exploit, is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Brownlee of McDonald’s Corners, where he was born in 1883.  He attended Perth Collegiate and later took his BA at Queen’s university, Kingston.  He spent six years studying in England and returned to Canada in 1911.  In 1912 he was successful in an examination in Ottawa for Provincial Land Surveyor and followed this calling in Manitoba and British Columbia from 1912 to 1914, when he came east and joined the 42nd, thereafter taking an officer’s course and becoming attached to the 21st Battalion at Kingston as lieutenant.   The 21st was in training there until May of 1915, when the battalion went overseas and was in training at Shorncliffe, Eng. until September of 1915.  A part of the 21st then went on active service in Belgium and Lieut Brownlee was selected among others as an officer in this detachment.  He has been on active service since that time.


Below is the newspaper article that describes Lieut Brownlee's actions with the 21st Battalion during the battle for the St Eloi Craters April 8/9, 1916


The Perth Courier April 28, 1916


Capture Trench From Enemy 

In addition to the bombing exploit Lieut Fisher Brownlee of McDonald’s Corners, took part in with others in the 21st Battalion at St. Eloi the week of March 28th to April 4th, he was again prominently mentioned in Monday’s official account of the fighting about the salient of St. Eloi, when a party of the 21st Battalion attacked and won part of a German trench, while the 18th, 19th, and 20th also did great work.  The ground about St. Eloi is sodden with water, and the repairing of trenches is difficult.  But with this damp earth plowed into a veritable porridge and dented with countless pits and holes, with steamy vapors veiling the landscape, and dotting from view all familiar landmarks, movements of the 18th and 19th and 21st Battalions for a night attack on the German line were decidedly hazardous.  On the right bombers under Capt AP Miller and Lieut WF Brownlee of the 21st, attacked a crater held by the enemy, Lieut GS Bowerbank following them in charge of a working party.  Lieut Brownlee and Scout Belyea went on ahead and having located the enemy, led the bombing squads up to the position.  Bombs were thrown at close range, but the Germans were found in considerable numbers and the decision was taken to return for reinforcements.  Capt Miller having been wounded, Lieut Brownlee was placed in charge of the second party but the advance was delayed owing to the difficulty of movement over the rough ground.  As the objective had not been reached by daybreak, operations were discontinued and the party retired.  After the return of the forces Lieutenants Brownlee and Bowerbank searched for and brought in the wounded men under a violent artillery fire.  On the following night the attack was renewed and was more successful, parties of the 21st under Lieutenants Brownlee, Marks and Davidson, bombing their way into a German trench, and although severely shelled by enemy guns and trench mortars, blocked the trench at both ends and established bombing posts.  The next night the enemy made two attempts to drive the men of the 21st from the ground captured, but each time their approach was detected by the sentries and they were driven back by 21st bombers.

Above is the plaque honouring the soldiers that served who were students at the Perth Ontario Collegiate.  Lieut WF Brownlee is shown in the centre panel.


For the 7 nights leading up to November 11, 2010, the names of all Canadian soldiers were projected onto the Belgian War Memorial in Ypres.  At the same time, the same names were being broadcast via the internet to schools across Belgium and Canada.  The image above shows the opening ceremonies at the Belgian War Memorial on November 4, 2010. 

Below on the left is the name of William F Brownlee being projected on that wall.  Below right shows the name being broadcast to the schools.  Each name appeared for 25 seconds and each night 9,700 names were shown.

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