Private 41215 Edward Brookes

Killed in Action on Thursday, 6th June 1918, age 20.
Commemorated on the Soissons Memorial, Aisne, France.

1st Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 24th Brigade of 8th Division.
Formerly 24437 Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Son of John Brookes, of 20, High St., Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Chester, Enlisted: Birmingham, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/725443/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Edward Brookes registered March quarter 1898 at Chester. This makes him 20 at the time of his death, not 18 as per CWGC.

1901 Census
12 & 13 Simons Passage, Tipton, Staffs.
John Broookes (45, Chain Maker, born Tipton), his wife Eliza (44, born Tipton), and their 5 children (Thomas (19, Chain Striker, born Tipton), Eliza (17, Domestic Servant, born Smethwick), Mary A. (13, born Tipton), William H. (11, born Birmingham), and Edward (3, born Chester).

1911 Census
25 Curzon Street, Saltney, Cheshire.
William J. Brookes (33, Chain Maker, born Saltney), his wife Catherine (31, born Handbridge), and their 4 children: Catherine (9, School, born Saltney), Florrie (6, born Handbridge), John James (4, born Saltney), and William (3 weeks, born Saltney),
also William's brother Edward Brookes (13, Brother, School, born Saltney).

Personal Data

After Edward's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £3/13/6d (3 pounds, 13 shillings and 6 pence); this was paid to his father, John, in October 1919. His War Gratuity was £6/10/0d (6 pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to his father in October 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Edward had enlisted in approximately December 1916.

Action resulting in his death

Ludendorf believed that a large-scale attack on the Aisne would force predominantly British troops from Flanders to the Aisne, allowing a decisive German attack in Flanders before the impending entry of the Americans into action.

The attack commenced 27th May against the Allied troops massed on the Chemin des Dames, casualties from the heavy artillery bombardment were severe. This was accompanied by a gas attack after which the German infantry began their advance through a 25 mile gap in the Allied line.

Between Soissons and Reims the Germans broke through a further eight Allied divisions, four British, four French, reaching the Aisne in under six hours. By the end of the first day the Germans had gained 10 miles of territory. By 30th May the Germans had managed to capture 50,000 Allied soldiers and 800 guns, arriving within 50 miles of Paris by 3rd June.

A German victory seemed probable, but problems with supplies, reserves, troop fatigue, in addition to prolonged Allied counter-attacks, halted the German advance at the Marne. By 6th June the German advance had run out of steam.

Most action had ceased by 4th June but two days later, on 6th June, the Germans attacked at 4.00am after an hour's intense artillery fire. This was repulsed, as was a further attack at 11.00am. The 1st Worcesters were on the left flank of the attack and had not been closely engaged, but had assisted in the repulse of the enemy by long-range fire.

Edward Brookes is shown as having been killed in action on 6th June; the Commonwealth War Graves web site shows 72 men of the 1st Worcesters being killed on that day. Given the relatively minor nature of the action of the 1st Worcesters on 6th June, I think that the figures are very questionable. The actions of the 1st Worcesters were more intense on the preceding day of the Battle of the Aisne, so I think it possible that accurate casualty figures could not be kept due to the severity of the fighting. I think it more likely that Edward Brookes was killed on any of the days of the Battle of the Aisne, and that the 6th June was the date an accurate roll call was taken.

Edward's body was never identified, and he is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial commemorating the men killed in the 1918 Battles of the Aisne and the Marne, and who have no known grave.

The Commanding Officer of the 1st Worcesters at the Battle of the Aisne was killed on the opening day, 27th May 1918. He was Major James Bertram Falkner Cartland, Barbara Cartland's father.

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