Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Brodie Valentine Mair

Brodie Valentine Mair : Photograph of Brodie in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre.  Reference: MRP/3B/025

Photograph of Brodie in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MRP/3B/025

Brodie Valentine Mair : (L to R) Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Military Division); Distinguished Service Order; Military Cross; 1914 Star with clasp '5th Aug.-22nd Nov. 1914';  British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal with 'Mentioned in Despatches' oak leaves; India General Service Medal with clasp 'Afghanistan N.W.F. 1919'

(L to R) Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Military Division); Distinguished Service Order; Military Cross; 1914 Star with clasp '5th Aug.-22nd Nov. 1914'; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal with 'Mentioned in Despatches' oak leaves; India General Service Medal with clasp 'Afghanistan N.W.F. 1919'

Brodie was born on the 30th December 1882 in Chelsea, London. He was baptised at the Parish Church of St Luke's Chelsea on the 23rd March 1883. His father was called John George Valentine and his mother was Louisa Helena. He was the middle of 7 children. George Pascoe, Ida Florence and Elsie Jane Nelly were older, and Robert Pascoe, Kate Pascoe and John Allen Freeman were younger. The family were members of the Church of England.

John was a civil engineer. When Brodie was born the family lived at 12 Carlyle Square in Chelsea. They must have been a well-off family, as they had two nursemaids, a cook and a housemaid living with them in 1881.

Elsie died aged 7 between July and September 1888. When the 1891 Census was taken Brodie was with Ida, Robert and John at 39 Palace Court in Paddington, London. Their parents were not there the night the Census was taken, but the family's 5 servants were. Ten years later Brodie was living at 'The Chestnuts' in Malvern, Worcestershire. He was a pupil of Arthur Vines, and lived in his house with 5 other boys.

After he left school Brodie decided on a career in the Army. He trained at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on the 22nd April 1903. He was 6 feet 1 1/2 inches tall. Brodie joined the Manchester Regiment and after 4 months in the UK travelled to Singapore on the 8th August. When he arrived he joined the 1st Battalion. He was stationed there until the 19th December 1904.

After leaving Singapore the 1st Battalion sailed to Secunderabad in India. Whilst he was there Brodie passed his promotion examination on the 27th July 1905. This meant he was eligible to be promoted to Lieutenant, although this wouldn't happen until the 24th April 1907. He passed a 'School of Instruction' in Signalling in Poona (now Pune, near Mumbai) during 1908.

During October 1908 the 1st Battalion moved south to Kamptee. This was to be their home for the next 3 years. At around this time Brodie was a member of E Company, under the command of Leo Creagh. Leo's medals are also in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment collection.

On the 21st October 1910 Brodie passed a Course of Instruction in Musketry held at Pachmarhi in central India. This qualified him to run firing ranges and train the soldiers under his command in rifle shooting.

King George V had been crowned in Britain on the 22nd June 1911. As Emperor of India he received his Indian subjects that December at the Delhi Durbar. The 1st Battalion took part in the Durbar itself on the 12th, and the spectacular military parade on the 14th. It also provided many guards of honour for dignitaries. On the 15th Brodie took his place in that day's guard. At this time he was serving in D Company. A total of 100 Delhi Durbar 1911 Medals were allocated to the 1st Battalion, Brodie did not receive one.

After the Durbar was over Brodie and the 1st Battalion moved to Jullundur in the modern Indian Punjab. Once there he revived the Regimental Dramatic Club. This had 'almost ceased to exist', 'owing to the perpetual moves of the battalion'. There is no record of any of his performances.

Professionally, this period saw Brodie pass a preliminary examination in French on the 21st January 1913, as well as qualifying in Hindustani. He appears to have qualified for promotion to Captain in 1912, but again, had to wait to gain the rank.

Brodie went on leave to the UK during mid 1914. His parents now lived at The Hammonds in Udimore, Sussex. He was still there when the First World War broke out that August.

After the outbreak of war Army units stationed in India were quickly sent to France to help those already there. The 1st Battalion set sail on the 29th August and arrived in France on the 26th September. Somehow Brodie was able to find his way back to them. He was promoted to Captain on the 9th November.

The 1st Battalion moved a great deal during October and November. They spent time in Picantin, Festubert and La Couture, before marching to Gorre in mid December in order to take part in an attack on the nearby village of Givenchy.

This attack was launched on the 20th December. Brodie commanded Number 2 Company. The 1st Battalion recaptured Givenchy and some of the trenches around it from the Germans, but were still under heavy fire from other trenches. They were ordered to capture these as well, and launched their attack at around 6am on the 21st December. It was not a success and the Battalion had to withdraw. The 1st Battalion had not been able to stop the Germans, but they had bought the rest of the British Army time to organise its defences. They suffered 66 men killed, 126 wounded and 46 missing. Leo Creagh was one of the dead.

Brodie's conduct during this fighting was so brave that he was awarded the Military Cross in the London Gazette of the 27th March 1915. His fellow officer Reginald Parminter was also awarded the medal. They have the same citation:

For conspicuous gallantry on 20th-21st December 1914. These two officers led the attacks on the enemy's trenches, and, during two heavy counter-attacks by the enemy, maintained their positions in the centre and right of the line with such marked determination that complete success was attained by the Battalion Commander.

After Givenchy the 1st Battalion took its turns in the front line and in the rear. Their next large operation was the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, which began on the 11th March 1915. Brodie was wounded at the beginning of the fighting, as the battalion was preparing to move forward. He was evacuated back to the UK for treatment.

Brodie would not return to the 1st Battalion. He had recovered by mid July 1915 and was posted to be an Assistant Military Landing Officer (AMLO). This job took him to Gallipoli, where British and Empire forces were holding a small area of ground that had to be resupplied by sea. As an AMLO Brodie ensured that ships were correctly loaded with the right equipment and personnel, and then supervised their unloading at the other end of their voyage. This was an important job, because if, for example, urgent supplies were loaded first, then they would be at the bottom of the hold and have to be unloaded last, causing problems on the battlefield.

At some point Brodie left this job and became a General Staff Officer Grade 3 with the Australian Imperial Force. They were fighting in Gallipoli until the end of the campaign in December 1915, and then served in Egypt. In early 1916 the Australians moved to France and took their place on the Western Front.

As a Staff Officer Brodie was not a front line commander. Staff Officers carried out a wide range of vital jobs such as planning movements and operations, coordinating reinforcements and ensuring units were kept fully equipped. Unfortunately we don't know Brodie's exact job.

In October 1916 Brodie left the Australians and rejoined a British unit. He was assigned to be Brigade Major in the 87th Brigade. A Brigade Major was responsible for planning operations and organizing the 4 infantry battalions within the brigade. The 87th Brigade was taking part in the Battle of Le Transloy when Brodie joined them. This was the final phase of the Somme Offensive.

In April and May 1917 the 87th Brigade took part in the Battles of the Scarpe, as part of the Battle of Arras. They moved north to the Ypres area of Belgium shortly after this, and joined the Passchendaele Offensive.

Although Brigade Majors did not command soldiers, they could still find themselves in the front line. Brodie was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his part in a brigade attack during early August. Unfortunately we don't know exactly where or when it took place. The award was published in the London Gazette on the 29th September. This is his citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He superintended the forming up of his brigade in the open all through the night under considerable shell fire, and on the following day, immediately the objective had been captured, he made a very skilful reconnaissance, by which he was able to clear up the dispositions of the units on their final objectives.

The 87th Brigade stayed in Ypres until the end of the offensive in early November. Later that month they took part in the Battle of Cambrai. Brodie left them in March 1918. He was promoted to Major on the 22nd April and posted to the 24th Division as a General Staff Officer Grade 2. Again, we don't know his exact job.

During the rest of the war Brodie held the same job with the 24th Division and the Headquarters of I Corps, which was the next highest level of headquarters. After the end of the war in November 1918 he was assigned to General Headquarters British Army of the Rhine, taking part in the occupation of Western Germany, again with the same job. He was Mentioned in Despatches 4 times during the war.

Brodie had returned to the UK by the 15th August 1919. On this date he sailed from London for Bombay (now Mumbai) in India aboard the 'Khiva'. After he arrived he took part in the final stages of the 3rd Anglo-Afghan War. This was fought between May and early August in the border areas between Afghanistan and modern Pakistan. Brodie must have entered the area where the war was fought by the 30th September, otherwise he would not have been eligible for the 'Afghanistan N.W.F. 1919' clasp. He was a Staff Officer during the war, although we don't know which unit he was a member of.

On the 8th March 1921 Brodie was assigned to the 21st Indian Infantry Brigade as Brigade Major. This unit was at Sararogha in Waziristan by June. They were in this area because of tribal unrest linked to the end of the 3rd Anglo-Afghan War.

Brodie was still based there on the 16th May 1922 when he caught 'heat apoplexy' or sun stroke and died. He was 39. His service in Waziristan between April and December 1921 was recognised after his death when he was made an Officer of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Brodie's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in November 1996.

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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council