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Private James Thomas Brooks took part in and was wounded in action in the Wieltje trench raid north east of Ypres of 10th January 1917. He died of his wounds on 11th January 1917 and is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, West Flanders (grave XD 16).

James Thomas Brooks was born on 23rd November 1892 at Walkden his parents were John and Martha Emma Brooks nee Blinkhorn, who in 1901 were living at 649 Bolton Road, Walkden. He was baptised on 15th January 1893 at the Swinton Wesleyan Chapel and was one of six surviving children the others being:  Martha Ellen, Ambrosine, Sarah Alice, John Robert and Doris

In the 1911 census the family are shown as living now at 24 Bent Street, Kearsley near Bolton, James is 18 years old and an underground coal waggoner in the local pit.

It was in this year that he met 2 Lt Angus Virtue Makant the recruiting officer for the 5th battalion L.N.L. and was duly attested for service as Pte 1408 with this battalion on 24th July 1911 aged 18 years 8 months. His occupation is a collier at the Outwood Colliery in Radcliffe, and he was 5’4 1/2” in height.

A week later he attended the annual camp between: 30th July – 13th August 1911 and also the next year on 4th August – 18th August 1912.

On 2nd November 1912 James was married at St Peters Church in Farnworth to Elizabeth Davenport who was aged 19 years. They both lived at 137 Primrose Street, Kearsley they were to have a son named Alfred in 1914.

Life in the Territorials must have agreed with him as he is shown as attending the annual camps for the next two years until 1914 when he was embodied into the Army on 5th August 1914 at the outbreak of hostilities. During his time he had been promoted to unpaid and then paid L/Cpl from Oct 1913.

He sailed from Southampton and was in France on 12th February 1915 and thus began his service on the Western Front. He had been appointed Corporal on 6th March 1916 but had reverted to Private at his own request on 21st May 1916.

His father was shown as his next of kin on his original service documents but since his marriage this had been changed to his wife now living at 53 Queen Street, Farnworth.

He had served for two years in Belgium and France with the regiment and was to take part in the trench raid at Wieltje on 10th January 1917 when he received the following shrapnel wounds in action: to the right arm, left knee, right thigh and stomach. He was removed from the field to a Canadian Casualty Clearing Station in Western Flanders where he unfortunately succumbed to his wounds the next day. He was buried nearby in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery the largest cemetery after Tyne Cot and one of the cemeteries visited by King George V in 1922.

The list of his effects were as follows: 1 metal finger ring, 2 identification discs,1 steel chain, 1 split ring, 1 religious book, 2 leather belts, 1 pair of scissors and 1 arm badge. These effects were sent to and received by his wife also included in the register of soldiers effects was an amount of cash the last sum of £11 this being left to his son Alfred.

For his service during the war James would receive the 1915 star trio of medals besides the memorial plaque to be forwarded to his wife, who by June 1917 had remarried and had become Mrs Morris.

In the Farnworth Journal of 11th January 1918 appeared the following in the In Memoriam column:

BROOKS: In loving memory of Pte James Thomas Brooks L.N.L. Regt who died of wounds January 11th 1917 aged 24.

His loving smile and welcome face,

No one can ever take his place.

One of the best that God could lend,

 A loving son and faithful friend.

From his loving father mother sister and brother.

Pte James Thomas Brooks was indeed 24 years of age at the time of his death, his CWGC grave marker however shows the age as 23.

Garry Farmer
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