Horace Brook (1893-1918)

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This page is part of a project by David Verguson to research the lives of those who appear on war memorials and rolls of honour in the Lindley area.

Biography

Son of Mrs. and Mr. John William Brook, of 61 Baker Street, Oakes.

The network of streets around the Card Clothing Company on Acre Street contained a large number of houses and produced many young men for the forces. In 1901 the Brook family lived in one of the small houses along Baker Street. John, aged 40, was a hemp weaver. This was unusual — most of his neighbours worked in woollen textiles. The children, in 1901, were too young to be at work, even as part-timers.

Fanny Brook, aged 38 did not work: it would be unusual, even with an industry like woollen textile manufacture which provide a lot of female employment, for a married woman with children to work outside the home.

Horace was born on 24 September 1893 at number 59 Baker Street. The Brooks already had a daughter, Mary, born in 1890. Another child, Gertrude, was born in 1902.

Horace attended Oakes schools at the top Wellington Street, and it is probable that he knew some of the other Lindley soldiers who were his contemporaries in the close neighbourhood. Gerald Cox, for example, was almost the same age and lived in nearby Wellington Street at about the same time as the Brooks were in Baker Street.

In 1911, the family still lived at 59 Baker Street. Horace was employed as a cloth finisher and Mary worked as a worsted weaver.

When he enlisted Horace was employed as a scourer and miller at Messrs T. & H. Blamires Ltd, Leeds Road, where he probably knew Norman Hirst of Outlane, who also worked at Blamires and would later die in the war.

Horace was 24 when he died and a single man. He may have volunteered early — his number suggests the 2/5th, a "Home service" battalion that never went to France until January 1917, after the introduction of conscription — but without his records we cannot be sure. A high number suggest he waited for conscription, in early 1916. Hubert Crowther had a service number close to Hubert's, which suggests they joined at about the same time, possibly under the Derby Scheme.

The Huddersfield Examiner reported that "H. Brook" was wounded in March 1917 so it seems likely that Horace was at the Front before then.

Boisleux-St. Marc, where Horace is buried, was first occupied by Commonwealth troops in March 1917 after the Germans withdrew. It was retaken during the 1918 spring offensive and recaptured by the Allies in August. Six Casualty Clearing Stations were established there from September until the end of the war. No doubt Horace would have been taken to one of them if he did not die instantly.

As well as being remembered in St Stephen's, Horace is also remembered on the memorial at the Oakes Baptist Church at the top of Wellington and Baker Streets, which may have served as a local memorial for Oakes.

Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922

The following extract is from Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922 (2014) by J. Margaret Stansfield:

BROOK, HORACE. Private. No 241564. 2/5th Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regiment. Born 59 Baker Street, Oakes, Huddersfield, 24.9.1893. Son of John William Brook, 61 Baker Street, Oakes. Educated at Oakes Board School. Employed as a scourer and miller by Messrs T. and H. Blamires Limited, Leeds Road, Huddersfield. Died of wounds, 13.9.1918, aged 24 years. Buried in SUNKEN ROAD CEMETERY, BOISLEUX-ST-MARC. Grave location:- Plot 2, Row A, Grave 5.
ROH:- Oakes Baptist Church; St. Stephen's Church, Lindley; Huddersfield Drill Hall.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

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