Edgar Brooks – Killed at the Somme

Edgar was the son of Edgar (a policeman) and Clara Brooks. In 1891 the family was living at The Police Station, Maybury. In 1911, the Brooks were at The Police Station, Wheeler Street, Witley by which time there was an addition to the family, Mabel, who was 16, and Edgar had left home, working as a grocer’s assistant for Mr Phillips in Leatherhead. When he retired from the police, Edgar senior and Clara moved to Fir Cottage. Edgar senior then took a position as an attendant at Watts’ Picture Gallery, Compton, which is where he was working at the time of his son’s death. Clara died in March 1932 aged 70 and is buried in All Saints’, Witley, churchyard. Edgar senior died in July 1948 aged 86 and is also buried in All Saints’, Witley.

On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, Edgar, serving with the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, received a graze to his head from a bullet. He wrote to his parents telling them it was minor and he expected a quick return to duty – in fact he returned to duty after a few hours’ rest. On 13 July, Edgar’s Battalion attacked Trones Wood. The leading company moved forward with a company of 7th Battalion East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) and was met by heavy rifle, machine-gun and shell fire. The British artillery bombardment did not appear to have affected the Germans so the Battalion reformed whilst a further British bombardment of the German positions took place. Edgar was killed by a shell during the advance and like so many who died in the war he has no known grave, as his body was either not found or not identified. The wood was captured with 4 officers and 22 other ranks killed, 2 officers and 44 other ranks missing and 9 officers and 150 other ranks wounded. The wood was re-captured by the Germans some time later and the Battalion re-captured it in the Battle of Albert, November 1918.

Edgar was awarded the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

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