Frederick Brooks was born in the spring of 1897, the ninth of eleven children to Stephen and Grace Brooks. Stephen worked as a woodsman in Bredhurst, Kent, a trade his eldest sons followed him into.
Frederick’s service records show that, when he enlisted in nearby Rainham, he was working as a fence maker. He was 5ft 6ins (168cm) tall, weighed 143lbs (65kg) and had fair physical development. He joined up in September 1915 and was assigned to the 2/1 Company Kent Royal Garrison Artillery.
Gunner Brooks’ early service was on home soil as part of the Territorial Force. However, he was transferred overseas as part of the British Expeditionary Force on 10th March 1917, where he served for nearly two years.
Frederick fell ill in January 1919, and was brought back to the UK for treatment. He was admitted to the Weir Red Cross Hospital in Balham, London, with bronchial pneumonia. He succumbed to heart failure just a few days later, on 4th February 1919. He was just 21 years old.
Gunner Frederick Brooks lies at rest in a peaceful corner of the secluded graveyard of St Peter’s Church in his home village of Bredhurst.
Frederick’s life throws a couple of coincidences my way. I used to live within spitting distance of his village, Bredhurst, and, indeed, have drive past his family home countless times. I also happened to have been born in the same hospital – the Weir in Balham – where Frederick had passed away 53 years earlier.
For the stories of more of the fallen from the Great War, take a look at my Commonwealth War Graves page.