Private 16860 William Brookes

Killed in Action on Saturday, 1st July 1916, age 24.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 13 A and 13 B of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

9th Bn., York & Lancaster Regiment. 70th Brigade of 8th Division.

Son of the late Mr Thomas Brookes, and Mrs Margaret Brookes, of 11 Swinton Road, Mexborough, South Yorkshire.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Mexborough, Resident: Mexborough.

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/765196/

Genealogical Data

Birth of William Thomas Brookes registered December quarter 1891 at Dudley.

1901 Census
27 Canal Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Brooks (38, Carter, born Claverley), his wife Margaret (33, born Dudley), and their 2 children: William (9, born Tipton), and Clara (6, born Tipton).

1911 Census
218 Dudley Port, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Brookes (48, Labourer, born Bushbury), his wife Margaret (43, born Dudley), and their 2 surviving children of 4: William (19, Labourer in Iron Foundry, born Tipton), and Clara (16, born Tipton).

Personal Data

After William's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £0/13/1d (13 shillings and 1 penny); this was paid to his mother, Margaret, in January 1917. His War Gratuity was £7/0/0d (7 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in October 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that William had enlisted in approximately December 1914.

William's widowed mother, Margaret, was awarded a Dependant's Pension of 13/0d (13 shillings exactly) effective from 5th June 1917. The Pension Card records that she married William Gillatt on 2nd January 1922.

Action resulting in his death

On 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the attack of the 70th Brigade of 8th Division was made west of Ovillers in front of Authuille Wood, beneath the southern spur of the Thiepval salient. The attack was led by the 8th York and Lancs and 8th K.O.Y.L.I., with the 9th York and Lancs in support.

The 8th York and Lancs and 8th K.O.Y.L.I. crossed no-mans-land and occupied part of the German trench system, but mounting losses caused this to stall. The German strongpoint of the Nordwerk was not taken and machine-gun fire from here and from the Leipzig Redoubt dominated no-mans-land.

The 9th Yorks and Lancs were cut down the instant they left their trenches. The leading troops were isolated and those capable forced to retire. By evening what was left of the brigade was back from where they had started the day. The 70th Brigade had over 850 officers and men killed on the day, with over 160 from the 9th Yorks and Lancs including William Brookes.

William has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. However, a document on the Commonwealth War Graves web site shows that in 1920 there was a single cross in Row 'A' of Blighty Valley Cemetery in Authuille Wood recording the names of 15 men of the 9th York and Lancaster Regiment "and all gallant men of the 70th Infantry Brigade". William Brookes was named amongst the 15 men. A search of that cemetery found no trace of these 15 men so it is uncertain if the cross was a communal grave marker and the graves subsequently lost, or a memorial to lost comrades. The latter may be inferred as the only man of the 15 with a grave (Bowman, 7660) is buried in Serre Road No. 2 after his body was found post-war some 1400 yards east of Blighty Valley Cemetery.

Newspaper Cuttings

South Yorkshire Times, and Mexborough & Swinton Times, Saturday October 21st 1916
The Great Advance
Men who Have Fallen
The Price of Victory
Pte. W. Brookes (Y. & L.), reported missing from July 1st, is now officially reported killed. He was 23 years of age, and his widowed mother resides at 11 Swinton Road, Mexboro.