Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The 2/4th Battalion)

Research and Resources around the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry during WWI

Company Sergeant-Major, Edward Brooks, VC

A bio of Edward Brooks by Paul F. Wilson from www.findagrave.com

“World War I Victoria Cross Recipient. A native of Oakley, Buckinghamshire, in civilian life he was a construction worker and a first-class shot, winning several prizes. He enlisted in the 2/4th Battalion of the Oxford & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in October 1914. His unit spent the first months of the war in England on garrison and training duty, Brooks teaching shooting and army drill to the members of the Headington Miniature [small bore] Rifle Club for the first two months of his service. The OBLI was posted to France in May 1916 and first saw action during the Battle of the Somme on July. Brooks was awarded the VC for action at the village of Fayet, near St. Quentin, France, April 28, 1917. From his citation: “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, lie 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. Company Sgt-Major Brooks 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 saved many casualties, and greatly added to the success of the operations.” Brooks was mustered out of the Army in 1919 and began working on the production line for Morris Motors at their Cowley plant in Oxford. He stayed with Morris until shortly before his death at the age of 61. His medals are on display at the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester.”

Further Detail from his daughter as told to his grandson. http://pearce.50megs.com/brooks.htm

“It is understood that he was the only Oxonian resident to receive the V.C. in the first World War. He was the son of Thomas and Selina Brooks and was born on 11th April 1883 at Oakley in Buckinghamshire where his father was a farm labourer.

A copy of the order (No.362) dated 2nd July 1917 reads,

The Brigadier-General notes with the greatest satisfaction that His Majesty has been please to award the Victoria Cross to Company Sergeant Major Brooks, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. By his gallant conduct on the 28th April 1917 Coy Sergt Major Brooks has brought the greatest credit on the 184th Infantry Brigade and has added additional lustre to the splendid historical records of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.

Ted with Wife Elsie and eldest doughter Doris

Brooks, Once told of his award, immediately wrote a short note to his wife: “Just a few lines hoping to find you all right and the children keeping well. You will be surprised to hear that I have been awarded the V.C. ”

Brooks with his wife Elise and eldest daughter Doris

When Ted returned to Oxford in July 1917, He was given a Reception by the Mayor and Corporation at the GWR station and was driven to Headington accompanied by the Mayor, Brooks’ Colonel and Canon Colson, preceded by the Headington Silver Band. The carriage was lent by Mrs Morrel. He was presented with a framed illuminated address for His most conspicuous bravery regardless of personal danger, and also some money which had been collected in the neighbourhood. There were large crowds along the route

Ted Brooks had a life full of variety. Not wishing to work on a farm He left home at 13 and went to work at Huntley and Palmers biscuit factory in Reading. Unfortunately, when they discovered that he had put his age up a bit they could not continue to employ him officially. However, he was only threatened with dismissal and kept on by the firm, receiving no wages but instead being given a weekly substantial tip. He was there until the start or the Boer War when he was one of the first to volunteer. He was disappointed in not being accepted but joined the Brigade of Guards Regiment of Foot at the age of 18 1/2 years for a three year period. He was able to stand so still when on sentry duty at Buckingham Palace that some American tourists, when trying to rouse him by pushing his buttons in, thought that he must be stuffed. He was a member of the Guard of Honour which welcomed the Kaiser when he came to Britian and later this seemed ironic to him and his family in view of the war which was to come.

After the war was over, Ted left the Army and worked for Lord Nuffield in the days when he was known as William Morris.

The Prince of Wales talking to Ted Brooks during a visit to Morris Motors where Brooks worked from 1919 until his death in 1944.

In the Second World War Brooks wished to be a dispatch rider, this time putting his age back instead of forwards, but without success.

Ted Brookes died at his home in Morrell Avenue on the 26th June, 1944 aged 61 years. Brooks Taylor Court in Albion Place, St Ebbe’s was named after him and for a member of the Womens Army Corps. It was built by the Royal British Legion Housing Association.

The writing on His grave reads as follows :-

Memories of
Loved Husband
And Father
Edward Brooks
V.C. Died
Coy. Sergt, Major
R/J Oxford & Bucks LI

June 26th 1944
Aged 61 years

His Beloved Wife
Elsie May
Died Reunited
Nov 20th 1958
Aged 73 years

All details are from Nora Pearce only daughter of Ted and Elsie that is still alive (this web page was built for her by her grandson)

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5 thoughts on “Company Sergeant-Major, Edward Brooks, VC

  1. Adam Bennett on said:

    I have just read your fathers/great grandfathers story, finding it as I look into my own granfathers WW2, (Oxford and Bucks as well, “7th”)
    You must be very proud.
    Adam Bennett

  2. alandbower on said:

    Adam, I just want to make it clear that Company Sergeant-Major, Edward Brooks, VC, was not my great Grandfather. I had two Great Grandfathers that served with the 2/4th Ox & Bucks; Sergeant James Walton and Corporal Ephraim Blakeman. What constantly amazes me are awful living conditions and the death and destruction they lived (and often died) through.

  3. alandbower on said:

    The original source for the material above is: http://pearce.50megs.com/brooks.htm

  4. alandbower on said:

    Adam, I have not researched the 7th Battalion in any detail, but one of Ephraim’s brothers, Alex George served with the 7th Ox and Bucks, and picked up malaria in Salonika. There are some very good free resources on the campaign in Salonika.






  5. He was my great great uncle though !

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