Brooks, Fred

Private Fred Brooks 17/1122 (1879-1917) 17th (Pioneer) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers
Fred was born Charles Frederick Brooks in Hull in 1879 and from a very early age he lived with his Grandparents, Charles and Jane Rudd in Brantingham near Hull. He married Rose
Simpson in Hornsea on the 22nd December 1904 and they lived in Southgate. Fred and Rose had eight children, Allan was born in 1905, Nora in 1907, Eric in 1908, Percy in 1910, Donald in 1912, Eunice in 1913, Fred in 1915 and Muriel in 1918. The Battalion’s casualties for the month of November were one offcer and twenty two other ranks killed and three offcers and fftty other ranks wounded. Fred was one of those killed as he lost his life on the 19th November 1917. An officer wrote to Rose and said “Your husband was very highly thought of by all the officers and in him we have lost one whom it was a pleasure to have in the Company”. Fred’s grave is identifed as V.C.II in Bard Cottage Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium. He is also commemorated on the North Eastern Railway Memorial in York
Fred was a platelayer with the North Eastern Railway before he joined the army.
He enlisted in January 1915 in the 17th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. The Battalion was raised by the North Eastern Railway at Hull in September 1914 and became
a Pioneer Battalion in January 1915 known as The North Eastern Railway Pioneers. In June 1915 the Battalion moved to Catterick where it joined the 32nd Division as the Divisional Pioneer Battalion. The Division embarked for France in November 1915 and the next six months were spent in the Somme sector around Albert. The Battalion took part in the opening phase of the Battle of the Somme and then in October 1916 it left the Division
and transferred to GHQ as Railway Construction Troops. Fred was in D Company and in the second half of 1917 the Battalion was involved in the construction of a system of light railways in the Ypres Salient. Working in atrocious weather conditions they were under the
constant threat of being killed, wounded or gassed.

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Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium