OXFORDSHIRE BLUE PLAQUES SCHEME

Edward BROOKS VC (1883–1944)

Company Sergeant Major

16 Windsor Street, Headington

Edward Brooks

Edward Brooks was born in Oakley, Buckinghamshire, one of thirteen children to Thomas Brooks, a farm labourer, and his wife Selina (née Siviter). At thirteen he left home to work at Huntley and Palmer in Reading. When only sixteen he attempted to serve in the Second Boer War. In 1902 he succeeded in joining the Grenadier Guards and was on duty outside Buckingham Palace. In 1905 he transferred to the army reserve.

In 1910 he married Elsie May, daughter of Elijah Danbury, a stonemason, and his wife Sarah, and settled in Highfield, living at first in New High Street, then Gardiner Street, and finally Windsor Street. He worked as a builder for Knowles & Son, and was one of the best shots in the Headington Miniature Rifle Club. On 29 October 1914 he enlisted in the 2/4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He was promoted to Sergeant in May 1915, and to Company Sergeant Major in July 1916.

He won his Victoria Cross for his action at Fayet, near Saint-Quentin, France on 28 April 1917. He was one of only two men in the Oxford & Bucks to receive the VC in WW1, the other being Alfred Wilcox of Birmingham in 1918.

Citation:
No. 201154 C. S./M. Edward Brooks, Oxf. and Bucks. L.I.
For most conspicuous bravery.
This Warrant Officer, while taking part in a raid on the enemy's trenches, saw that the front wave was checked by an enemy machine-gun at close quarters. On his own initiative, and regardless of personal danger, he rushed forward from the second wave with the object of capturing the gun, killing one of the gunners with his revolver and bayoneting another. The remainder of the gun's crew then made off, leaving the gun in his possession.
C. S./M. Brookes then turned the machine-gun on to the retreating enemy, after which he carried it back into our lines.
By his courage and initiative he undoubtedly prevented many casualties, and greatly added to the success of the operations.

He received the VC from the King on 18 July 1917. On returning to Oxford he was welcomed by the Mayor and Corporation at Oxford Station and driven to Headington in a carriage lent by Mrs Morrell of Headington Hill Hall, preceded by the Headington Silver Band. Cheering crowds lined the whole route. At the Manor House he was presented with a framed address and a public collection totalling £108. Furniture was also donated for the house. At Oakley he was presented with a gold watch. He returned to France within days but by the end of 1917 he was out of action with rheumatism and spent some time in the 3rd Southern General Hospital housed in the Examination Schools and University College during the war.

For the rest of his life Edward Brooks worked at the Morris car factory, and the photograph below shows him meeting the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII) there.

Brooks with the Prince of Wales

Edward Brooks's house in Windsor Street

 

Edward and Elsie had five children —Doris, Harold, Stephen, Nora, and Barbara — and lived at 16 Windsor Street (right) 1915–1930, and later at 42 Morrell Avenue.

He is buried in Rose Hill cemetery. In 2009 the TA Barracks in Abingdon was named in his honour. On 28 April 2017 a VC stone was unveiled for him at the Oakley War Memorial as part of the national commemoration of all VC recipients during the four centenary years of WW1.

 

 

Source: detailed narrative on www.headington.org.uk; primary sources cited there.

The was unveiled at 16 Windsor Street, Headington, on 29 July 2017. The speaker was Brigadier Nigel Mogg DL, Chairman of the Darell-Brown Robin Trust (the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry). In attendance were Cllr Jean Fooks (Lord Mayor of Oxford), Mr Keith Brooks and many other descendants, and regimental representatives of the Oxford & Bucks LI Committee, the Royal Green Jackets Association, and 7 Rifles officers with buglers from the Edward Brooks Barracks.

Pictures taken at unveiling ceremony:

Picture awaited

Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board

EDWARD / BROOKS VC
1883–1944
Company Sergeant Major
2/4th Bn Oxford & Bucks LI

Awarded the Victoria Cross
for valour at Fayet on / 28 April 1917

lived here / 1915–1930

DARELL-BROWN ROBIN TRUST

 

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