WW1 - Surnames starting with the letter B. 

Wilfred-da-Cunha Brookes MM

Name of Rgt or Ship:Tank Corps
How Died:Died
Country of burial:U.K.Grave Photo:Yes
Cemetery or Memorial:Weymouth Cemetery, Dorset
Town Memorial:Sale
Extra Information:
Born during the September quarter 1890 in the Altrincham R.D. - ref:
8a/188a, the only son of Arthur & Annie Brookes.

1891 Census - Barcombe Lodge, Broad Road, Sale.   Son - aged: 9 months -
born: Sale.   Head of household - Arthur Brookes - Married - aged: 30 -
occ: Manager In Shipping Merchant's Office - born: Heatley, Cheshire.  
Also - Annie Brookes - Wife - aged: 30 - born: Manchester - Plus 3 elder
siblings who were all born at Moss Side, Manchester.

1901 Census - Morningside, Princes Road, Sale.    Son - aged: 10 - born:
Sale.    Head of household - Arthur Brookes - Married - aged: 40 - occ:
Shipping Merchant's Manager - born: Heatley, Cheshire.   Also - Annie
Brookes - Wife - aged: 40 - born: Manchester - Plus 3 siblings and 1
domestic servant.

Attended Sale Grammar School, Manchester Grammar School and Manchester
School of Technology and Manchester University, where he studied Textiles -
Spinning & Weaving.

1911 Census - Morningside, Princes Road, Sale.     Son - Unmarried - aged:
20 - occ: Manchester Goods Cotton Warehouse Assistant - born: Sale.    Head
of household - Arthur Brookes - Married - aged: 50 - occ: Shipping
Merchant's Manager - born: Lymm, Cheshire.   Also - Annie Brookes - Wife -
aged: 40 - born: Altrincham - Plus 1 younger sister.   Arthur and Annie had
been married for 28 years and produced 5 children, one of whom had died.

He became an Assistant Manager in a Cotton Weaving Factory, but prior to
enlisting he was employed at Westinghouse as an Inspector of Munitions in
the Fuse Department.

A member of the Manchester University O.T.C. from 1st February 1909 to 30th
September 1911.  He was offered a commission at the outbreak of war, but
declined the offer.   He is also commemorated on the Manchester University
War Memorial.

Eventually enlisted on the 30th April 1916 in the Motor MGC - he trained at
Bisley and was soon appointed as an Instructor.    Drafted to the front on
29/08/1916 as a Corporal.

Formerly 38018 Machine Gun Corps - this was probably the "Heavy Section" of
the M.G.C. as the Tank Section was known

He was one of the crew of "Male" Tank  - D6.  His first action was during
the battles of the 15th/16th September 1916 - in support of a Canadian
offensive at Flers - Courcelette on the Somme - this was the very first
time that tanks had been used in battle (they were named as tanks, which
for reasons of secrecy, was to infer that they were, in fact, water tanks).
  They did not make a conspicuous entry onto the battlefield as most of
them broke down or took direct hits.  General Haig had requested 100 tanks,
but had only 49 at his disposal by the 15th September 1916.  32 were
assembled near to TrĂ´nes Wood on the night of the 14th September, but only
18 took part in the battle that followed.   Nine moved forward with the
leading infantry with nine mopping up behind.

The local newspaper report of his involvement is as follows:- His tank took
a direct hit with a high explosive shell and 4 of his crew were killed. 
His tank had put several enemy gun enplacements out of action, but when
hit, it was, by then, behind the enemy lines.  He managed to make good his
escape passing through both enemy and British barrages, when he came across
some New Zealanders in a shell hole.

He volunteered to drive another tank and was back in action on the 1st
October 1916.  [Note - this time 5 tanks took part in the Battle of
Transloy Ridges and 4 in the Battle of Ancre Heights - don't know which of
those two battles he was in]   Anyway, his tank was put out of action by
the gearing (tracking ???) becoming entangled with barbed wire.  He
attempted to disentagle this by cutting the wire with nippers, but was
unsuccessful.  After being given the order to abandon it by his officer, he
set fire to it and whilst escaping, he was shot in the right forearm
sustaining a compound fracture.   His gravestone states that he was wounded
on the 1st October at Eaucourt L'Abbaye, France.   There were two tanks in
action on 1st October at Eaucourt L'abbaye - D8 commanded by George Bown
and D16 "Bracula" commanded by Jeff Wakley.  Both tanks got amongst the
German defenders and provided effective support to the attacking infantry
from 47 London Division; both however were to get stuck in the German
defences.  As they could not be removed, the tanks were set on fire and the
crews withdrew.  On the way out, Wakley was badly wounded.  Although the
British had managed to hold the ground taken that day, it was not for three
days that the tankees could evacuate Wakley.  One of his rescuers was
awarded the DCM and another the MM.

He was invalided home to the Bangor Hospital at Edinburgh where he stayed
from October 1916 through to November 1917.  This was in part to recover,
but he was eventually put in charge of the workshops of the X-ray
Department - serving in "B3 (employment ony) Class".   After a short leave
home, he re-joined his unit at Worgret Camp, Wareham and it was there that
he was seized by illness and died of Cerebro-Spinal Memingitis at the
Weymouth Isolation Hospital.

Death reported in the 08/02/1918 edition of the Altrincham Guardian.  See
also the 15/02/1918 edition of the local newspaper.

Also commemorated on the "First Tank Crews" web-site -

Memorials found on:
St. Anne's (Sale Moor)
Manchester Grammar School
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