Eric Anthony Rollo Gore-Browne was a Sidney boy, the youngest of four children. Born in Ryde on the Isle of Wight in June 1890, he was brought up in Buckinghamshire, where his father was a vicar. He came up to Oundle aged 15 and stayed for just two years. He was a school prefect, keen cricketer and a sergeant in the Cadet Corps.
After Oundle, he determined on a military career, entering Sandhurst and then obtaining a commission in the Dorset Regiment in 1910. After three years in India, he was seconded to the King’s African Rifles and sent out to British East Africa, where Oundle’s war had begun in earnest in September 1914 with the death of Sam Edmonds, the first Oundelian to be killed in the conflict.
Eric Gore-Browne was promoted Captain in 1915 and was wounded in action at Longido as the British incursion into German East Africa continued. He was evacuated to a hospital in Nairobi but recovered and continued to serve. In 1916 he was promoted to Major and was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French for his part in training French troops in Nairobi. Early in 1918 he returned to German East Africa but was then transferred to Portuguese East Africa – modern day Mozambique - where he was killed, on 3rd July. Now acting Lieutenant-Colonel, he was in charge of the fort at Nhamacurra when it was overwhelmed after a gallant three day defence by a large German force.
“Now only the King’s African Rifles on the right held fast. The cheering Germans raced across sugar and sisal fields, the British troops found themselves all but riveted down by cross-fire. Their commander, Major E.A Gore-Browne had no choice but to order a gradual withdrawal towards a wide stream in the hope of fording it and taking up stronger positions on the opposite bank. Suddenly the usually unflappable KAR were infected with the Portuguese panic. Instead of retiring in order, they swarmed into the river and tried to swim to the other side…nearly half the force was shot dead, snapped up by crocodiles or drowned in the boiling current. Among those lost was Gore-Browne, who went under while trying to stem the rout…”
The German force that day was commanded by Paul von Lettow, the same man whose forces had killed Sam Edmonds of Laxton House back in 1914.
Eric Gore-Browne was 28 years old at the time of his death and his name is recorded on the Mombasa British Memorial in Kenya. He was recorded in Nigel McCrery’s book Final Wicket: Test and First Class Cricketers Killed in the Great War for his appearance for the Europeans against the Parsees during a Bombay Presidency match in August 1912, played at Poona. He scored 12 and 0 and took no wickets. His brother Harold (who did not go to Oundle) was killed aboard HMS Invincible in the Battle of Jutland.