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John William Brook

Date of birth: 1883
Date of death: 16.9.1915
Area: Kirkhamgate
Regiment: King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Son of George and Eliza Brook
Rank: Private
Service number: 21056

War Service

John enlisted with the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 7th Battalion number 21056. The Battalion landed at Boulogne on 24th July 1915 and according to the war diary for 7th Battalion, in September they were at Croix Blanche with the entry for 15-20th September stating “nothing of great importance occurred during these five days with the exception of artillery duels.” It did, however, go on to report that on 16th a working party was engaged in mending the parapet when a trench mortar bomb fell among them “2 were killed and 4 wounded of which three afterward died.” I believe John was one of those as he was killed in action aged 32 on 16th September 1915 and buried in the Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery Fleurbaix. He was given the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.
Incidentally, his brother Tom enlisted on 9th December 1915 at the age of 35. He was wounded in France in March 1918 and came back to recover at his younger brother, Robert’s, house at Red Lodge Farm, Kirkhamgate. Another younger brother, Lawton, also joined up at the age of 18 in 1916 and he also served in France from October 1918 to January 1919.
John’s death was reported in the Wakefield Express of 25th September 1915 along with that of Joseph Ward. The paper however calls him William Henry Brook which may be a misprint or perhaps his family had decided to call him a different name as did sometimes happen.
“The other Kirkhamgate man who has also fallen a victim to one of the German snipers is Private William Henry Brook of the 7th Batt KOYLI. Brook was leaving the trenches when he was killed. Deceased who was a single man and 33 years of age, has had a rather remarkable career. Originally he was employed as a miner, but for years was unable to follow regular employment as he suffered from asthma. In January, however, he wanted to enlist and, much to the surprise of himself and his many friends, was accepted. It was evident that a soldier’s life just suited him, for from the time of his entering the army until he fell on the battlefield he enjoyed the best of health. An officer, writing to the deceased’s brother, said Brook was steady quiet and resourceful.
A memorial service is to be held at St Mary’s Mission Church on Sunday afternoon.”
He is also commemorated on the Kirkhamgate War Memorial.

Family Life

John William Brook was born in Kirkhamgate in 1883 to George Brook and his wife Eliza. George was a cattle dealer in Kirkhamgate, like his father John had been before him. In 1891 they had five children – Clara (b1878), Tom (b1880), Robert (b1885), Alma (b1890) and John, but in 1894 the same year as youngest daughter Elizabeth Taylor Brook was born, their father died.
By 1901 the family were living in Ramsden’s buildings, Kirkhamgate, together with a lodger James Brook who was also born in Kirkhamgate. There were also two more sons – James (b1897) and Lawton (b1898) presumably sons of James Brook. The two eldest sons Tom and John were both miners – John being described as a coal miner horse driver underground. Ten years later John’s mother had died and John was head of the household in Chapel Fold Kirkhamgate and still a miner. His brother Tom who was 2 years older was living with him and was now a cattle dealer and he also had his 17-year-old sister, Elizabeth and 13-year-old brother, Lawton living with him.

Photo of Rue Petillon Military Cemetery. Rows of white head stones with plants in front. Rue Petillon Military Cemetery

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