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eMedals-Canada. A Kitchener's Wood DCM Group to Lieut. Brookes, later 23 Squadron Royal Flying Corps

Item: C5038

Canada. A Kitchener's Wood DCM Group to Lieut. Brookes, later 23 Squadron Royal Flying Corps


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Canada. A Kitchener's Wood DCM Group to Lieut. Brookes, later 23 Squadron Royal Flying Corps

Canada; Distinguished Conduct Medal, George V (81103 CPL. W.R. BROOKES. 10-CAN.INF.); 1914-15 Star (81103 PTE. W.R. BROOKES. 10-CAN.INF.); British War Medal (2/LIEUT. W.R. BROOKES. R.F.C.); and Victory Medal (2/LIEUT. W.R. BROOKES. R.F.C.). Naming is officially impressed. Court-mounted with swing bar pinback, as worn by the veteran, replacement ribbons, contact marks, very fine. Accompanied by copies of his CEF Attestation Paper, his RFC service records from the National Archives, his DCM announcement and citation in the London Gazette, along with assorted research papers.

Footnote: William Ralph Brookes was born in Frith, Kent, England on May 17, 1892. He was a resident of Ottawa, Ontario when he signed his Attestation Paper as a Private (81103) with 32nd Infantry Battalion "Manitoba and Saskatchewan Regiment", on December 14, 1914 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the age of 22, naming his next-of-kin as William Ralph Brookes of Ottawa, stating that he had no previous military service, that he was not married, that his religion was Church of England and that his trade was that of Mechanic. The Battalion was raised in Manitoba and Saskatchewan with mobilization headquarters at Winnipeg, Manitoba under the authority of G.O. 36, March 15, 1915. The Battalion sailed February 23, 1915 from Halifax, Nova Scotia board the S.S. Vaderland, with a strength of 35 officers and 962 other ranks under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel H.J. Cowan, arriving in England shortly thereafter, where the Battalion became known as the 32nd Reserve Battalion. After seven and a half weeks in England, Brookes was transferred to the 10th Infantry Battalion in France on Apr 26, 1915. Four weeks later, Private Brookes was in action at the Battle of Festubert, from May 21 to 22, 1915. It was gallant actions he performed while at the German positions at K5 Redoubt during this battle that would see him awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The 10th Infantry Battalion attack this day was unsuccessful, the battalion suffering 268 casualties: 18 officers and 250 other ranks, with Brookes being promoted to the rank of Corporal on June 1, 1915. 81103 Corporal William Ralph Brookes, 9th Canadian Infantry Battalion (formerly the 10th Infantry Battalion) was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the announcement appearing in the Fourth Supplement to the London Gazette 29438 of Tuesday, January 11, 1916, on Friday, January 14, 1916, page 615. His citation was published in the Supplement to the London Gazette 29503 of Friday, March 10, 1916, on Saturday, March 11, 1916, page 2739: "For conspicuous gallantry; he led a party under excessively heavy fire in front of the trenches to bring in an officer who had been severely wounded. The attempt was successful, and the wounded officer brought back to a place of safety." Corporal Brookes was manning one of the front line trenches, Trench 134, at Kitchener's Wood, St. Julien when he received a gun shot (shrapnel) wound to his right leg, on October 18, 1915. His wounds were initially dressed at No. 3 Canadian Field Ambulance, followed by additional treatment at Bailleul on the 19th, before being admitted to No. 13 General Hospital at Boulogne on October 21stFour days later, he was invalided to England aboard the Hospital Ship Anglia on the 25th, then taken on strength of the 9th Reserve Battalion at Shorncliffe and admitted to West Bridgford Military Hospital on the 28th. After three weeks at West Bridgford, he was discharged on November 19th and transferred to the Hillingdon House Canadian Convalescent Hospital at Uxbridge, then discharged to the reserve unit at Shorncliffe. Corporal Brookes was hospitalized for a second time early in the new year, admitted to West Cliff Canadian Eye and Ear Hospital at Folkestone, on January 4, 1916 with a case of "Tonsillitis". After ten days in hospital, he was discharged on the 14th to the 9th Infantry Battalion. Two weeks after his discharge from hospital, he was declared "Absent Without Leave" at East Sandling, ordered to forfeit seven days' pay on February 1, 1916. He again ran afoul of the authorities while with the 9th Infantry Battalion, when he was "severely reprimanded for breaking quarantine and not complying with an order", on April 20, 1916.

Over the next nine months, Brookes would see a series of transfers: to the 32nd Infantry Battalion on May 16, 1916, to the 30th Infantry Battalion on June 10, 1916, to the 11th Infantry Battalion on July 15, 1916 and to the 14th Reserve Battalion on January 31, 1917. Corporal Brookes was struck off strength "on appointment to a commission in the Imperial Army", which would later be defined as a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps, on February 26, 1917. Two days later, he received a medical examination regarding his gun shot wounds, at Shorncliffe on the 28th, the attending physician noting that Brookes "Complains of pain in (the) right buttock, thigh & knee. No objective finding." He was subsequently posted to the Alberta Regimental Depot at Shorncliffe on April 6, 1916. Once his leg healed, he was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, where he trained as a Pilot. Brookes was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on Feb 26, 1917 and joined No. 12 Reserve Squadron. He was transferred to No. 49 Squadron in April 1917, the transferred again, this time to No. 23 Squadron on June 23, 1917, flying Spad XIII aircraft. 2nd Lieutenant Brookes joined forces with 2nd Lieutenant Thomas Arthur Doran, the two flying together and sharing credit for destroying an enemy aircraft on July 29, 1917. A Royal Flying Corps Headquarters communique described the pair's exploits: "2/Lieut. T.A. Doran and 2/Lieut. W.R. Brookes, 23 Sqn. whilst on offensive patrol attacked two Aviatics east of Polygon Wood at 0850 and destroyed one." He was teamed up with Doran again, when the two were in combat twelve days later. A Combat Report for that aerial action, was filed by 2nd Lieutenant Doran, stating: "Whilst leading a formation on offensive patrol, I saw 5 enemy aircraft south of Houthulst Forest with an escort of about 10 enemy aircraft. I dived with 2/Lieut. Brookes to attack one of the two-seaters, the the other of (our) formation remaining up to protect us from the scouts above. All of the two seaters made off east, but I overtook one and attacked from above, firing a long burst of about 50 rounds, finishing the burst at 50 yards. I drove the enemy down to about 1000 feet, he was going in a straight glide when he suddenly turned completely over on his back and fell apparently quite out of control. At that moment I was attacked from behind by one of the hostile scouts who had got between me and the rest of my formation, but made off as I turned to fight." A Combat Report for Aug 15, 1917 was filed by Captain George Brindley Aufrere Baker, MC, No. 23 Squadron, for actions in the area of Zillebeke-Brixschoote-Houthulst Forest-Poelcappelle, stating: "Two formations of four Spads working in conjunction, left the aerodrome on offensive patrol at 0715. Immediately on crossing the lines, the formation led by Lieutenant O'Grady encountered a two-seater escorted by a formation of 8 enemy aircraft.

The two-seater retired east and the hostile formation engaged as they dived to protect the two-seater. The two-seater escaped. The large formation at this time was being engaged by Capt. Baker and three Spads, preventing them from joining the others who were engaging Lt. O'Grady's formation. All 8 off our Spads were engaging the enemy formation who were by now being reinforced. Our machines were forced back to the Salient where they re-formed. Early in the fight, Lieut. Warman had to retire with a gun jam and whilst being engaged by 3 enemy machines only escaped by firing his Very flares at them. Lieut. Brookes also had to return owing to pressure trouble. The 23 Squadron machines, now 6 in number, returned to the attack and a dog fight ensued with 23 Sqn. expending most of its ammunition and returning to base having probably shot down two enemy aircraft." The following day, August 16, 1917, Brookes was wounded and admitted to hospital in France, as recorded in his Royal Flying Corps service records. It was not until December 1917 that he was declared fit to fly again, however, he did not return to combat duties, as he was appointed an aircraft delivery pilot on December 3rd. Eight weeks laterBrookes returned to Canada on January 30, 1918, where he would be injured in a flying accident on June 24, 1918. He recovered from his injuries and did survive the war. William Ralph Brookes died on July 20, 1958 in Ottawa, at the age of 66. (C:197)

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