BROTHERS' WWI MEDALS INCLUDING M.C. GROUP & DEATH PLAQUE TO SOM. L.I.

Military Cross George V; 1914-15 Star to 12072 Pte. H.W. Brooks, Som. L.I.; WWI War to 2.Lieut. H.W. Brooks; Victory Medal to 2.Lieut. H.W. Brooks. Brother's pair of War & Victory Medals to 38429 Pte. O.H. Brooks, R. Berks. R.
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Description

Military Cross Gazetted 30 July 1919: "For conspicuous gallantry and good leadership near Briastre. He carried out a series of daring reconnaissances between October 10th and 12th, 1918. On one occasion, under persistent fire from snipers and machine guns, he brought back an accurate report of ours and the enemy dispositions. He behaved fearlessly throughout the operations, and after his company commander was wounded displayed remarkable coolness and judgment in handling the company." Horace William Brooks was born in Stoke-under-Hamdon and enlisted with the Hampshire Regiment on 2 Sep 1914 before joining the 6th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry in France from 25 May 1915. Brooks was Killed in Action near Pont à Vache on 4 Nov 1918. The Western Gazette records:

'Killed in Action – The death is reported of 2nd Lieut. Horace Brooks, eldest son of Mr W Brooks, glove manufacturer, who was killed while leading his men in a charge on November 4th. Lieut. Brooks joined the Army in September 1914, had seen heavy fighting on the Western Front, and had had many narrow escapes. In October of last year he came home with the rank of sergeant, and after taking his commission, he joined the 7th Somerset Light Infantry in Ireland, and went to France at the end of July. Among the souvenirs he sent home is an iron cross won by a German officer in 1914. Lieut. Brooks had been commended by his CO for bravery in the field in the fighting for Cambrai. In civil life deceased took a keen interest in the Boys’ Brigade, holding the rank of Staff-Sergeant. The deceased was also a good footballer and played for the Stoke eleven. He was much liked in the village for his quiet, unassuming manner. Much sympathy is felt for Mr & Mrs Brooks in their great loss. Another son is in France. Mr Brooks received the following letter from the Colonel:-

“It is with very deep regret that I write to inform you of the death of your son, Horace William. He was shot through the head by a German machine gunner and killed instantly. He was endeavouring at the time to lead his line forward across a difficult bit of country, and must have been hit by a machine gun located in an orchard.

It is a great blow to his company which he has commanded during the past three weeks most efficiently. He commanded the affection of his men, and his gallant example was greatly appreciated as you will see by enclosed document which was put in by the Sergeants of his Company at the conclusion of about four days’ heavy fighting. In this connection I put in a recommendation that he be awarded the Military Cross but have not yet had time to hear the result, which takes time to come out invariably. In any case, whether my recommendation is approved or not, you will be glad to know that I thought so well of your son that I had not only recommended him as above, but also I was intending to send him to an excellent course of instruction for Company Commanders, with a view to making him a Captain.

Your son will be missed by the officers as a pal, by the men as a leader and a pal, and by me as a most efficient officer and loyal friend. He has been buried, and a service is being held in his memory tomorrow. In the same day, Captain Briggs, commanding my other leading Company in fighting, was also killed. Both died instantly.

My warmest and most sincere sympathy goes with this letter to you all at home and I speak for officers and men when I say that we feel for you and we shall cherish and honour the memory of a friend who died in action leading his Company. A fine tradition and climax to a work well done. P.S. The enclosed is the sort of document I personally should value enormously, coming as it did from the NCO’s under your son’s command.'

Horace is buried at the Cross Roads Cemetery, Fontaine-au-Bois. His younger brother, Oliver Hensleigh Brooks was born in Stoke-under-Hamdon in 1898 and served with the Royal Berkshire Regiment and Hampshire Regiment, surviving the war.