Lance Corporal Edgar Brooks
7th Bn. The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment)

Town Memorial P1.R3.C1.

Taken, Not Given

Pte [sic]
Edgar Brooks
7th Royal West Surrey Regt.,
July 13, 1916

The regimental records of the Queens' (1) confirm the name and the battalion to which Edgar Brooks belonged, and the War Diary of the 7th. Queens' tells another sad story.

Bear in mind that the 7th. Queens' had sustained just over 50% casualties only twelve days before (see Private Reginald Gray, 1 July 1916) and the story to be told can be seen in perspective.

According to the Diary, at 1p.m. the C.O. received verbal orders for the battalion to attack the Northern portion of TRONES WOOD.

The Diary continues, “nobody from Bn. had reconnoitred the area" and “map did not give accurate representation of the ground". To make things worse the telephone lines which the signallers laid were broken and “amount of cable issued was insufficient. German wire had to be utilised".

The risks the signallers were having to incur were reminiscent of the attack on Festubert on 16 May 1915  by the 2nd Queens' (see Private George Eldridge).

One company of the Queens' was with the 7th. Bn., The Buffs, and one party made a small penetration in the wood, but as usual, the German machine guns had done their deadly work.

The Diary concluded “enemy showed very decided disinclination to fight hand-to-hand and only did so when they could obtain an advantage by some unsportsmanlike action."

The casualties of this sad episode were:

Killed: Officers 4 - Other Ranks 22
Wounded: Officers 7 - Other Ranks 150
Missing: Officers nil - Other Ranks 44
Totals: Officers 13 - Other Ranks 216 (TOTAL 229)

In other words, since about 1st. July 801 officers and men had become casualties out of an establishment of about 1000!

Notes on sources
1.  Records of the Queens Regimental Museum, Clandon Park, Surrey.
2.  File WO95-2051War Diaries of the 7th. Battalion, The Queens',  Public Record Office, Kew, Richmond

Stop Press
Soldiers who Died in the Great War gives actual date of death as 14/7/1916.
He was born in Woking and enlisted at Guildford (W[h]itley).
His actual rank was Lance Corporal and his number G5943.
The probability is that he actually died on the 13th, or may have lingered until the early hours of the 14th, as on the 14th the 7th. Queens' were not in action and were marching back to billets in Grovetown Camp – War Diaries.

Lance Corporal

Service Number G/5943
Died 14/07/1916
Aged 28
7th Bn.
The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
Son of Edgar and Clara Brooks, of Fir Cottage, Wormley, Surrey.
Location: Somme, France
Cemetery/memorial reference: Pier and Face 5 D and 6 D.

Further research

Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser
Saturday 30 December 1916
BROOKS, Lce.-Corpl. Edgar, of the Queen's R.W.S. Regt., son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Brooks, Wormley Hill, lived at Bridge-street, Leatherhead.

He is not in the May 1915 Leatherhead Parish magazine listing of those serving but in the 1916 issues he is in the listings provided in January and February and his death on July 14 1916 is recorded in August.

His life

He was baptised Edgar Brooks on 5 February 1888 at St John the Baptist's, Woking. He was born on 2 December 1887. His parents in the baptism record were Edgar & Clara Brooks, address Lavender Road and Edgar snr's occupation was Constable.

His father was born at Ottershaw, Chertsey, Surrey; Clara née Hooton, his mother, came from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. He had a sister, Mabel, born Woking 1895.

Edgar was a member of the Leatherhead Church Lads Brigade and is listed on their memorial Tryptich in All Saints Church.

His probate record, registered on 24th October 1916 reflects the uncertainty over his date of death "Died 13 or 14 July 1916 in France on active service". The beneficiary was "Edgar Brooks retired police sergeant".

In the 1891 Census Edgar and his parents are listed at Woking Police Station.

In 1901 they are at High Park Road, Merrow, Guildford:
Edgar 38 Police Constable b Ottershaw, Surrey
Clara 39 b Hemel Hempstead, Herts
Edgar 13 scholar b Woking, Surrey
Mabel 5 scholar b Woking
James C Isted 15 Signal Lad (Railway), visitor, b Woking

In the 1911 Census the family are listed at "Surrey Constabulary, Witley, Godalming". Edgar snr is "Police sergeant 23 Surrey Constabulary" and Mabel (16) as a Book-keeper. Edgar jr is not listed. He would have been about 24 years old.

In 1913 the Electoral Register for Leatherhead lists him as a Lodger, Bedroom first floor, furnished, in Bridge Street, paying 5s a week. The Landlord was AS Phillips. Bridge Street was also mentioned in the press report of his death.

Other than his membership of the Church Lads and residence in Bridge Street, what he was doing in Leatherhead is yet to be established.
Listing on memorials

Edgar Brooks is listed on the following memorials:
Church Lads Brigade Tryptich, All Saints Leatherhead
Leatherhead Town Memorial
Leatherhead Parish Church, Royal British Legion Roll of Honour
Leatherhead, St Mary and St Nicholas Church, Ladies' War Shrine
Thiepval Memorial, France
Witley, All Saints, Plaque
Witley, War Memorial Cross


Surrey in the Great War

the website editor would like to add further information on this casualty
e.g. a photo of him, his headstone, and of any recollections of him

last updated: 1 Jun 20