HISTORIANS believe they have found the remains of a Galashiels war hero in Italy.

Captain Robert Donald Brown singlehandedly held off a German attack in the days following the Allied landings at Salerno, south of Naples, armed only with a pistol and hand grenades.

Captain Brown was serving with The Leicestershire Regiment, when he led a company attack against a German-held position known as White Cross Hill.

During some of the most intense fighting of World War Two, and under heavy machine gun fire, he managed to storm the hill and take a German trench.

But the 28-year-old was killed during the fierce battle which ensued - and his body was never recovered.

Now historians believe that it is Captain Brown's remains that were unearthed earlier this year following the more recent discovery last month of an inscribed silver bracelet just 10 yards away from the skeleton.

The bracelet is inscribed 'R Donald Brown' and contains the army number 121662 as well as the abbreviation 'Pres' to signify his Presbyterian faith.

Amateur historian Matteo D’angella, who is a member of Salerno 1943 research group, said: “The leather dog tags were easily destroyed in battle so some soldiers had their name and number inscribed on bracelets or tags so that their bodies could be identified if they were killed."

Donald Brown was born in 1915 in Galashiels and was educated at St Mary's Preparatory School in Melrose, and at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh.

He had passed his first year examination at the Royal Veterinary College in Edinburgh when war broke out.

In July 1939 he joined the 165 Officer Cadet Training Unit at Dunbar.

And the following March, 24-year-old Donald was commissioned into The King's Own Scottish Borderers, and posted to the 9th Battalion.

In May 1943, he was attached to the 2/5th Battalion The Leicestershire Regiment while fighting in Tunisia.

It was with the Tigers battalion that he took part in the landings at Salerno.

On September 16, 1943 while commanding a company of 2/5th Leicesters he was posted missing in action.

Captain Brown was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Service Order in 1946 'in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the field'.

The citation which appeared in The Scotsman on March 23, 1946 stated: "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."

Captain R Donald Brown is commemorated on the Cassino Memorial in Italy and on the Merchiston Castle School war memorial.

His name is also inscribed in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Montecassino - the site of another savage battle between the Allies and the Germans during Italy offensive.

Donald's father, who was also a KOSB, was killed in the First World War.

In 1946 Donald's widow, whom he had married in 1935 when he was 21, married Donald's brother Charles, himself badly wounded in the war and a former Japanese POW.

Other artefacts, including belt buckles, buttons and ammunition, found with the remains earlier this year also indicate the soldier was British.

The amateur historical group who recovered the remains and the bracelet believe Captain Brown's family can now be given closure, 74 years after his death.

Salerno 1943 members are appealing to British military authorities to carry out DNA testing on the skeleton and match it with DNA from any surviving relatives of Captain Brown.

Matteo Piero from Salerono 1943 said: "We think that Brown probably lost the bracelet while fighting in the German trench.

“When the Germans retook the position, they threw his body down the hill, and that’s where we found it.”

Salerno 1943 president Luigi Fortunato added: "The bracelet has been found few meters away from the place where we found the human remains on the top of the hill where Donald was last seen.

"We do not want to feed fake hopes to Captain Brown's family, but it is obvious to think that when the Germans took back the hill, they disposed of the officer's body by throwing it down the side of the hill, where we found the remains.

"We informed Sue Raftree from the MOD Casualty Centre about our find and research so that they can focus their efforts on telling the families of the missing soldiers.

"We hope that DNA results in a positive answer, and we will be happy to give back the bracelet to Donald's family."