Private 14228 John Thomas Brookes

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Died of Wounds on Friday, 25th May 1917, age 24.
Buried in Grave A. 3. 'Special Memorial' at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

9th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment (Pioneers). Pioneer Battalion of 23rd Division.

Eldest Son of John and Elizabeth Brookes, 2 Perry Street, Park Lane East, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Wednesbury, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 24th August 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, Park Chapel, and St. Peter's, Greets Green memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/489211/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
130 Whitehall Road, Greets Green, Tipton, Staffs.
John Brookes (36, Carter for Railway Company, born Great Bridge), his wife Elizabeth (35, born Wolverhampton), and their 5 children: Elizabeth (9, born Wednesbury), John Thomas (7, born Wednesbury), William L. (6, born West Bromwich), Eliza (3, born West Bromwich), Arthur Edward (1, born West Bromwich).

1911 Census
130 Whitehall Road, Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffs.
John Brookes (46, Carter for Railway Company, born Great Bridge), his wife Elizabeth (45, born Wolverhampton), and 5 of their 6 surviving children of 6: John Thomas (17, Facer in Tube Trade, born Wednesbury), William Leech (16, Screwer in Tube Trade, born Great Bridge), Eliza (13, left School - no occupation, born Great Bridge), Arthur Edward (11, School, born Great Bridge), and May (3, born Great Bridge).

Personal Data

None Available.

Action resulting in his death

The 9th South Staffs were the Pioneer Battalion for the 23rd Division; they landed in France in August 1915. After a spell in the Loos area, they moved to Vimy, then to the Somme. During the Battle of the Somme the 23rd Division were involved in the Battles of Albert, Bazentin Ridge, Pozieres, Flers, Morval, and Le Transloy. In 1917 they moved to the Ypres Salient, in the Messines area.

John was an orderly to the Captain of his company. On 25th May 1917, he was moving up the trenches when he was hit and killed by a machine gun bullet. He is buried in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, just south of Ypres. His grave is commemorated by a Special Memorial as the precise location of his grave in Railway Dugouts was lost due to subsequent action.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 9 June 1917
Lance-Corporal J. T. Brookes.
The death is reported of Lance-Corporal John Thomas Brookes (23), eldest son of Mr and Mrs John Brookes of 2 Perry Street, Park Lane East, Tipton. Employed by the Victoria Tube Works at Great Bridge, he was one of the patriotic young men who joined in August 1914, and he served with the 9th South Staffs (Pioneers) He died on May 26th. (CWGC says 25th).
Among the letters received by the parents is one from Sergeant W Hallett who, writing on May 27th to inform them of their son's death, says:- " I sincerely hope these few lines will help you to bear your great loss bravely. Your son was orderly to the Captain of the Company and while proceeding to the trenches on May 25th he was struck by a machine gun bullet. Your son was a brave young fellow, brave and very cool under fire, and he was well liked by the officers and comrades of the company. He always had a cheerful word for everyone, and was looking forward to coming home on leave in a few days time." [Sgt Walter Hallett MM, from Wolverhampton, was to die of wounds on 10th July 1917, and is also buried in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground]
Company Quartermaster-Sergeant J Williams wrote:- "I beg to offer you my deepest sympathy in the loss of your son. His death will be felt by all the men in the company, as he was always very popular; he was at all times willing, and never grumbled. I have known him since he came out to France, and have been his Quartermaster-Sergeant for over a year. He was to have gone on leave on the 30th. I happened to be talking to him just before he received his fatal wound. He is being buried tonight in the cemetery just behind the firing lines."
The Captain of the Company wrote:- "The officers and men beg me to send you their sincerest sympathy in your bereavement. You will always find some consolation in remembering that your son gave his life for our righteous cause, and died bravely doing his duty as a good soldier."
The Chaplain who conducted the funeral, and Company Sergeant Major Pilkins also wrote.
A son, William, just a year younger than the deceased, is serving in the R.F.A., while the youngest son is expecting to be called up shortly.

BROOKES. In loving memory of Lance Corporal J.T. Brookes, South Staffs, who was killed in action May 26th 1917, aged 23 years. From his loving mother and father, Lizzie, May, Will (in France), and Arthur in training.
He sleeps beside his comrades
In a hallowed grave unknown
But his name is written in letters of love
In the hearts he has left at home.
Only those who have lost can tell the pain on parting without farewell.
From Mr and Mrs J Brookes and family, 2 Perry Street, Park Lane East, Tipton.