Major Brown was awarded the Victoria Cross after rescuing several soldiers pinned down by Boer artillery and small arms fire.
After the fall of Johannesburg and Pretoria the Boer army fell back to the east, fighting all the way in a series of minor but bloody engagements which kept the British continually under attack. On 8th October 1900 the Cavalry Division reached Machadorp, some 100 miles east of Pretoria, where the 14th were grouped into a 600-men strong brigade. They advanced south towards Heidelberg on 12th October 1900.
On their first night they leaguered (set up camp) at Geluk, but the Boers had seen them arrive and surrounded them at night, shelling them in the early morning light. They attacked the brigade with a view to taking their supply transport, as they were very short of supplies themselves. The brigade was forced to perform a fighting withdrawal on 13th October.
The 8th Hussars were first out, protected by the 14th Hussars, with A Squadron dismounted in trenches. When A Squadron were given their orders to withdraw, they had to leave their trenches to get to their horses, sprinting over some 150 metres of open ground covered by Boer artillery and small arms fire. A Squadron’s withdrawal was covered by C Squadron. Major ED Brown, the Regiment’s second in command, was in command of the two squadrons and their withdrawal. He was with A Squadron’s horses under close-range fire from both flanks.
When two troops of A Squadron and two of C Squadron had successfully withdrawn, the remaining two troops began to receive accurate fire from the Boers. The horses were rearing, making it very difficult for the men to mount. Major Brown rode over and assisted three troopers to mount and escape. He then picked up Sergeant Hersey, whose horse had been killed and took him on his horse to find him another mount. Major Brown then went back with his trumpeter, Trumpeter Leigh, to check for other survivors in difficulty. They found one man retiring on foot. He was too heavy to ride tandem, so the trumpeter gave him his horse and hopped up behind Brown. Meanwhile, Sergeant Hersey had ridden back to pick up another dismounted man.
Brown was awarded the VC for his courage and example. Sergeant Hersey, Trumpeter Leigh and Private Sexton, who had brought out his own officer, were also singled out for their gallantry that day. Subsequently, Major Brown, then Lieutenant Colonel ED Browne-Synge-Hutchinson VC, commanded the 14th Hussars from 1907 to 1911.