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Salerno DSO's Remains May Have Been Found

Discussion in 'WWII Today' started by The_Historian, Sep 8, 2017.

  1. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist

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    "Historians in Italy believe they have found the remains of a British officer who was hailed a hero during the Second World War after holding off a German attack singlehandedly, armed only with a pistol and hand grenades.
    They have unearthed a skeleton close to a strategic point that was the focus of a fierce battle in September 1943 in the days following the Allied landings at Salerno, south of Naples.
    About 30 yards from the human remains they found a silver bracelet which is inscribed “R. Donald Brown”. It bears an army number, 121662, and the abbreviation “Pres”, standing for Presbyterian.
    The historians believe the bracelet – and probably the skeleton – belong to Capt Robert Donald Brown, who was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his role in the battle. Belt buckles, buttons and ammunition found with the skeleton indicate that the soldier was British.
    Capt Brown was serving with The Leicestershire Regiment, nicknamed The Tigers, when he led a company attack against a German-held position known as White Cross Hill. Under heavy machine gun fire, he managed to storm the hill and take a German trench.
    During close quarters fighting, he killed several German soldiers, but his own troops were unable to reinforce him, despite desperate appeals for help.
    “He was last seen holding out by himself and being attacked on all sides,” an official regimental history recounts.
    The 28-year-old officer was never seen again and was listed as missing in action. A year after the war ended he was posthumously awarded the DSO.
    The citation read: "In an attack near Salerno in September 1943, Captain Brown, alone and armed only with a pistol and grenades, held the summit of a hill against continued assaults, and was last seen being attacked on all sides, after he had killed a number of the enemy. Unsupported, he inspired his company to renewed efforts to reach him and to drive back the enemy.
    His body was never recovered but Salerno 1943, an amateur historical group, believes his family can now at last be given closure, 74 years after the soldier’s death.
    The historians are appealing to British military authorities to carry out DNA testing on the skeleton and match it with DNA from any surviving relatives of Capt Brown.
    “We think that Brown probably lost the bracelet while fighting in the German trench,” said Matteo Piero, a member of Salerno 1943. “When the Germans retook the position, they threw his body down the hill, and that’s where we found it.”
    The historians found the skeleton back in March but it was not until last week, when they discovered the bracelet with the help of metal detectors, that they had any inkling of the soldier’s identity."
    Skeleton of British WWII soldier who singlehandedly fought off German attack 'found' in Italy
     

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