b. 03/02/1884 Aberdeen, Scotland. d. 29/10/1914 Gheluvelt, Belgium.
James Anson Otho Brooke (1884-1914) was born at Fairley House, Newhills, Counteswells, near Aberdeen, Scotland on 3rd February 1884. His father was Sir Henry “Harry” Vesey Brooke KBE JP DL, a former Captain in the 92nd Highlanders from 1864-1879, who served in India twice. His mother was Patricia Byres nee Moir. His parents had married in London on 9th December 1879 and James had four brothers and two sisters. Three of his brothers also served in the Great War, though sadly two also didn’t survive the conflict (one dying of wounds suffered on the Somme in 1916, and the other died of a fever having served on HMS Courageous). His youngest brother sadly died at the age of 10.
His paternal grandfather was Sir Arthur Brinsley Brooke Bt, MP for Colebrook, County Fermanagh, Ireland, who had also served in the 92nd Regiment. His paternal grandmother was the Honourable Julia Henrietta Brooke nee Anson, a Maid of Honour to Queen Victoria, and daughter of General Sir George Anson, Colonel 4th Dragoon Guards, who served in the Peninsular War and was Groom of the Bedchamber to Albert, Prince Consort. James’ great uncle was Augustus Henry Archibald Anson VC. James was educated at Winton House Winchester and Wellington College.
At the Royal Military College, Sandhurst he was a good academic student, Captain of the Shooting team and a member of both the Riding Club and Football team. He was commissioned on 11th October 1905. He initially served in Cork from November 1905 with the 1st Battalion and transferred into the 2nd Battalion in India in 1907, where he won several trophies for Markhor, Ibex, Sambur and Boar shooting. He was promoted to Lieutenant shortly afterwards. He received the Battalion’s Colours from King George V at the Delhi Durbar in 1911 and went with the Battalion to Egypt in 1913. He was promoted to Captain on 1st September 1914, though sadly notification of this promotion came after his death.
He arrived with his Battalion at Zeebrugge, Belgium on 7th October 1914 and was appointed Assistant Adjutant on 29th October. It was later that day that Captain Brooke would be killed shortly after his VC action.
On 29th October 1914 near Gheluvelt, Belgium, Lieutenant Brooke led two attacks on the German trenches under heavy rifle and machine-gun fire, regaining a lost trench at a very critical moment. By his marked coolness and promptitude on this occasion, Lieutenant Brooke prevented the enemy from breaking through the British line at a time when a general counter-attack could not have been organised. Having regained the lost trench, he went back to bring up supports, and while doing so, was killed.
Brooke was buried in Zantvoorde British Cemetery, and his VC was posted to his father on 9th March 1915 (gazetted on 18th February 1915). His father was formally presented with the medal by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 29th November 1916. In addition to his VC, the unmarried Brooke also received the 1914 Star with Mons clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf and the 1911 Delhi Durbar Medal. His medals are held by the Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen along with his original wooden grave marker and revolver.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: GORDON HIGHLANDERS MUSEUM, ABERDEEN.
BURIAL PLACE: ZANTVOORDE BRITISH CEMETERY, BELGIUM.
James Brooke's memorial stone just prior to being unveiled in Aberdeen (29th October 2014).
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT VI, ROW E, GRAVE 2
Brooke's medals at the Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen (Picture - Thomas Stewart).
Wellington College Memorial
Brooke family grave in Springbank Cemetery, Aberdeen
Colebrooke ( Aghalurcher) Parish Church,