Rifleman 49922 James William G Brookes

Brookes James William 96 416x600
The photograph of James' grave in Cologne Southern Cemetery was kindly provided by Peter Bennett.

Died on Wednesday, 26th December 1917, age 20.
Buried in Grave XI. F. 14. at Cologne Southern Cemetery, Germany.

1st/6th Bn., The King's (Liverpool Regiment). 165th Brigade of 55th Division.
Formerly 36539 North Staffs Regiment.

Son of Mrs N. Cound, of 28, New Rd., Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Lichfield, 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.

Commemorated on the St. Luke's Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/900976/

Genealogical Data

Birth of James William G Brookes registered June quarter 1897 at Dudley.

1901 Census
4 Court 1 House, New Road, Great Bridge, Tipton.
James H Brookes (26, Bolter Down at Iron Rollers, born West Bromwich), his wife Harriet EA Brookes (26, born Hillesdon, Bucks), and their 3 children: James WG (4, born Tipton), John E (3, born Tipton), Beatrice E (4 months, born Tipton).
This house is just 2 houses from 28 New Rd - address at time of death

1911 Census
28 New Road, Great Bridge, Tipton.
James Henry Brookes (37, Iron Worker at Albion Works, born West Bromwich), his wife Nellie (37, born Buckinghamshire), and their 4 children: George (James William George) (14, Tube Worker, born Tipton), John Edward (13, born Tipton), Beatrice Ellen (10, born Tipton), and Albert (7, born Tipton).

Personal Data

James William G Brookes is commemorated on the St Luke's Memorial as GW Brookes, KL.

The CWGC records James as being the son of Mrs N Cound. In 1917 Nellie Brookes married Frederick Cound at Dudley. Nellie's husband, James H Brookes, had died aged 40 in 1915.

After James' death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £7/16/2d (7 pounds, 16 shillings and 2 pence); this was paid to his mother, Mrs Nellie Cound, in May 1918. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that James had enlisted within the previous 12 months.

Action resulting in his death

The 1/6th Battalion Kings(Liverpool) was part of the 55th (West Lancs) Division, and spent most of 1917 in the Ypres Salient. They suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Pilkem Ridge, the opening battle of 3rd Ypres. Between 30th July and 4th August, the Division had 168 officers and 3384 men killed, wounded or missing. It is likely that this was where James Brookes received his wounds as the Division was then withdrawn from the line until 20th September, and he was reported wounded in the Tipton Herald on the 15th September.

The Division were next in action at the Battle of Menin Road Ridge from the 20th to 23rd September, and again suffering over 2000 casualties. The Division were then withdrawn and left the Salient, next being in action on the 30th November facing the German counter-attack at Cambrai. The reputation of the Division suffered on this day as the front line was easily taken by the Germans; a later Court of Enquiry called the German advance "rapid and almost bewildering". Hundreds of men from the 55th Division were taken prisoner on that day.

It cannot be stated with certainty, but it is likely, that James Brookes was wounded at Pilkem Ridge. After recovering from his wounds, he returned to his unit and was most likely taken prisoner on the 30th November at Cambrai. He died on 26th December 1917 as a Prisoner of War, and is buried in Cologne Southern Cemetery.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 15th September 1917
Tipton wounded.
Pte JW Brookes Kings (Liverpool).