Frederick Charles Brook
Died : 16 August 1917
Shown on the 1891 Census as the son of John and Mary Ann Brooks of Rushey Green, Ringmer and aged nine, this information is at variance with Army and War Grave Records. Both of the latter record Frederick as Brook; that is without the 's' and 37 years of age when he was killed on 16th August 1917. These are simple examples as to how 'official' documents vary. The 1901 census gives his parents (but not Frederick) still living in Ringmer, but with the name of Brook. Other sources traced do little to clarify the matter but it seems he chose to sign up with the Army using the name Brook.
Close up of a section a panel at Tyne Cot showing Frederick Brook listed with some of his chums from the 8th Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
Frederick was born in Ringmer and educated at the Village School along with his four brothers. Their father was a labourer and their mother a dressmaker. He married Edith and they moved to Ewell in Surrey prior to the War. It was in Epsom that Frederick enlisted into the Middlesex Regiment with number 3693 prior to transferring to an Irish Regiment.
It was as Private Brook number 40872 with the 8th Royal Dublin Fusiliers that the enemy was first encountered. As his only entitlement was the British War and Victory Medals it must be presumed Frederick did not reach France until after his battalion had landed there in December 1915. His Division, the 16th (Irish), was concentrated south of Bethune to defend the front in that general area. They were involved in the German gas attacks during April 1916 before being moved to the Somme area for their share of the fighting in September.
During 1917 the Division was sent north again to take part in the Battle of Messines with the capture of Wytschaete occurring on 7th June. Held in Reserve for the Battle of Pilckem Ridge, the 8th Royal Dublin Fusiliers were in the thick of the fighting at the subsequent Battle of Langemarck by mid-August that year.
The 16th August seems to have been a day of confusion for the Dublin Fusiliers. Assembled at 4am ready for zero hour at 4.45am they were to act as a Reserve Unit. The gun pits where shelter was sought before entering the fray were shelled. The Battalion fought its way forward at 10am, losing a few men and most of the officers to enemy snipers. Without leadership the rest of the day's fighting was bitter but lacked co-ordination. They failed to reach their objectives and at 8pm a withdrawal of 100 feet was ordered. This was to allow for a heavy artillery bombardment of the nearby enemy positions. Unable to find a suitable place to entrench one hundred feet away, the Battalion retreated to the starting point of that morning. The whole day's fighting had been in vain.
Despite the general confusion there were only 46 casualties among the other ranks that day, among them Private Frederick Charles Brook. His body was not recovered and identified and in consequence he is commemorated by name on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing at Passchendaele.
Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing at Passchendaele
Fred Brook is commemorated on Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing near Passchendaele. The 34,888 names are inscribed on panels which can be seen at the back of Tyne Cot Cemetery which is the largest British War Cemetery on the Western Front
Adapted from Valiant Hearts of Ringmer by Geoff Bridger: Ammonite Press, 1993