Private G. H. Brooks of the Scots Guards, commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford has yet to be positively identified.
He is believed to be George Henry Brooks who was born in Hammersmith, Middlesex, on 18th June 1880, the son of police officer George Brooks and Ellener Sarah Brooks (nee Parsons). His father had been born c1844 in Barton, Oxfordshire; his mother c1844 in Reading, Berkshire. They had married at St. John the Evangelist’s Church, Hammersmith on 3rd March 1877 - at the time both were living at 9 Raynham Road, Hammersmith.
George was baptised at the same church on 26th September 1880 - by then the family had moved to 1 Rothsay Terrace in Hammersmith. Hie had at least two siblings, influding William Brooks (born in 1878) and Beatrice Ada Brooks (born in 1882), both in Hammersmith.
The 1881 census found nine month-old George with his parents, elder brother and uncle still at 1 Rothesay Terrace. George’s father was sergeant in the Metropolitan Police. The 1891 census listed George, his parents and two siblings, at 14 Welbourne Road, Tottenham, Middlesex. George’s father was a chapel keeper. Ten years later George’s parents and sister were still at Welbourne Road though George’s whereabouts at the time are unknown. Neither can he be located in the 1911 census.
George’s father may be the Mr. G. Brooks listed in a 1913 street directory as resident at 46 Manor Road, Chelmsford. Beyond that, no substantial evidence of a Chelmsford connection has been found.
BROOKS, GEORGE HENRY,
Private, 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards
George lived in Tottenham and enlisted at London. He served in the 2nd Battalion of the Scots Guards which a regular army unit which was based at the Tower of London at the outbreak of the war. The battalion became part of the 7th Division which was formed in September and early October 1914 and landed in Zeebrugge with the intention of defending Antwerp. George disembarked on 7th October 1914. With the fall of Antwerp to the Germans, the division was ordered to aid the westward evacuation of the Belgium army. With that task completed the division entrenched in front of Ypres where it halted the advancing German army.
George was killed in action on 28th October 1914 while serving as Private 3696 in the 2nd Battalion of the Scots Guards. He is buried at Harlebeke New British Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium (grave: XV. A. 8). The cemetery, some 32 kilometres east of Ypres town centre, was created after the Armistice, when graves were brought in from surrounding battlefields.
George was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal, and is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford.