Sunday, August 31, 2014

SD/1633 Pte William Jared Brooks, 12th Royal Sussex Regt

William Jared Brooks was born in Fletching, Sussex in 1896. He appears on the 1901 census living with his family at Cherry Tree Cottage, Fletching Common. The household comprised: Jared Brooks (head, married, aged 32, a bricklayer journeyman), his wife Frances E Brooks (aged 33) and their three children: Frances E Brooks (aged six), William (aged four) and Sydney Arthur Brooks (aged three). Also living at the cottage was William's maternal grandfather, 82 year old William Hart.

Chailey Parish Magazine first mentions William in its April 1918 issue, stating Brooks, Lance-Corporal W J, 12th Royal Sussex. This information is repeated up to and including the final published roll call in July 1919. In fact, William had been in khaki for a long time. He and his brother Sydney had enlisted with the 12th (South Down) Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment at Brighton on 11th November 1914 and they had travelled to France together in March 1916. Sydney’s number was SD/1632 and William’s SD/1633. The 12th Sussex was thrown into action at The Boar’s Head on 30th June 1916 and the casualties were great.

When the roll call was taken later, Sydney was reported missing and later presumed dead. Soldiers Died in The Great War notes his date of death as 30th June but I have been unable to find his entry on the Commonwealth War Graves’ site. William appears to have come through the encounter unscathed. Certainly, his old headmaster, John Oldaker, of Newick school, makes no mention of it in the notes he jotted down about him (below). Both boys had been at the school between 1905 and 1911 and at some stage, William sent Mr Oldaker the photograph of himself that is reproduced on this page.

William remained overseas with the Royal Sussex Regiment until he was wounded on 23rd July 1918 and his war ended.

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