Original WW1 Medal Pair, Pte Brookes, 2nd London Regiment, Killed in Action on t
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About this item
A rare and sought after grouping comprising the British War Medal and Interallied Victory Medal, with good lengths of original ribbon.
Medals are correctly named as follows;
BWM and Vic - 4675 PTE. G. W. BROOKES. 2-LOND. R.
George Brookes enlisted in Westminster and was entitled to a pair, as confirmed on the Medal Index Card. Soldiers Died confirms he lived in Wells, Norfolk and was killed in action on the 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
On the morning of the 1st, the 2nd Battalion were in Brigade Reserve, in trenches opposite Gommecourt. They formed part of the 56th Division, who were to form the 'right hook' of the pincer movement designed to envelope Gommecourt Wood and village. This was a diversionary attack, just a few miles to the north of the main battle on the day. In the days before the 1st, lorries full of empty biscuit tins had been driven up and down the roads behind the British trenches here, to give the Germans the impression of a big build up of forces and convince them that this was the main focus of the upcoming attack.
The Battle of Gommecourt is well documented, but as with most of the operations on the northern part of the Somme front, it was a disaster. Whilst the forward Battalions made it as far as the third German line, they were heavily counter-attacked by Germans bombing along their own trenches.
It was not until the afternoon that the 2nd Londons were called into action. They were to cross No-Mans Land and reinforce the troops in the German trenches, who by now were suffering heavily.
At least three Companies of the 2nd Londons crossed No-Mans Land. They were met by extremely heavy machine gun fire from each flank as well as an artillery bombardment. One Company reported that all their Officers and NCOs had either been killed or so wounded that they were unable to continue the fight.
C Company reported; "Captain Handyside was wounded about 15 yards from our front line, but crawled forward encouraging his men until a shell burst over him and he was killed. Very soon the Company was stopped by the fire and had lost all it's Officers. None of the Company were seen to enter the German trenches, though several were shot down near their wire. About 50 men including many wounded crawled in after dark."
And D Company; "Lieut H. W. Everett and several other men had been hit merely getting out of the trench."
At around 8pm, the last British troops holding the German line were spotted retiring across No-Mans Land.
The war diary reports 4 Officers killed, 6 wounded and 2 missing. 39 other ranks were killed, 160 wounded and 42 missing.
Presumably George was one of those 42 as, he has no known grave and is commemmorated on the Thiepval Memorial.