Yorkshire veteran tells how courage of forefathers inspired his military career

A YORKSHIRE veteran who nearly lost his eyesight in Iraq has told how the courage shown by his forefathers during the world wars helped inspire him to pursue a military career.

Undated handout photo of Simon Brown, 39, holds the three medals won during his time with the Army. He served in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, before nearly losing his eyesight when he was hit by sniper fire in Basra in 2006. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday November 7, 2018. See PA story MEMORIAL Armistice Brown. Photo credit should read: Handout/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Simon Brown said the values demonstrated by his great-grandfather, who joined the Army shortly before the start of the First World War, have been passed down through the generations of his family.

The 39-year-old from Morley, Leeds, told how Joseph Brown served in Gallipoli at the start of the Great War, before fighting in the Second Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Passchendaele.

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His great-grandfather’s reluctance to speak of his wartime experiences meant that Simon’s family only recently discovered a Croix de Guerre medal won for his bravery during the Battle of the Somme.

He said: “We were stunned and astonished that he had been through these really horrific battles and had come out through the other side.”

That same spirit was also shown by Simon’s grandfather, Sydney Brown, who joined the Army as a staff-driver in the early days of the Second World War.

Mr Brown told how Sydney, having been told he would be staying at home for the duration of the conflict, deliberately “went Awol” in order to serve jail time so that he could be sent out to Mesopotamia, where he helped deliver fuel to the front line.

Between 1968 and 1978 his father, Mike Brown, was part of the RAF, acting as part of the Coastal Command during the Cold War.

Mr Brown, who joined the Army in 1997, said: “Those values that were in our family from their service were put into us as kids. That’s why when I was called to do my job I did, and fought on and carried through with every intention of surviving.”

He served as a mechanic in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in Bosnia and Iraq, where, in December 2006, he was hit by sniper fire as he led a mission to recover a stranded vehicle. The bullet shattered both his cheekbones, destroying his left eye and severely damaging his right eye.