Sapper Walter Brookes 2nd Division Signal Company Australian Engineers

Walter was born in Chinley Derbyshire in June 1891, the eldest son of George and Betsy Brookes. His childhood was spent in Romiley Cheshire, but on 1st December 1910, he left England, aboard the ship 'Mamari' of the Shaw Savill and Albion Company line, for a new life down under, in New South Wales Australia. Two years later, his parents and 7 younger siblings followed him to Sydney.

When war came, he enlisted, on 9th May 1915, in the Australian Imperial Force, and became Soldier 395, 2nd Division Signal Company, Australian Engineers. The Army records describe him as 5 feet 7 inches tall, weight 156 pounds and of fair complexion with blue eyes and brown hair.
He survived the horrors of Gallipolli, only to then be transferred to the Western Front. But first he must have had a few precious days leave, and returned to his childhood town of Romiley. There, on 26.10.1916, he married Alice Louisa Slater whom he had known in his childhood. She lived at 10 Laurence Street, Romiley Cheshire.
A few days later, he returned to combat, in Belgium, and was killed in action on 8.10.1917, the first week of Passchendale. He is buried at Poperinghe Military Cemetery.

The Australian Military records record a poignant exchange between Walter's mother Betsy and the army authorities, over the inscription to be put on his memorial stone. Betsy was no longer Walter's next of kin, and the wishes of his widow Alice Louisa took precedence, so his headstone inscription reads ‘Until the day dawns and the shadows fall away…Mizpah’

Walter's family remained in Sydney, where they made a new life for themselves. I found the photograph of Walter, and postcards from the Front, amongst my grandma’s memorabilia. Grandma was Walter’s cousin.

Versus From The Trenches

Private Charles Depledge Of the Whaley Bridge Territorials has been at the front for several months. In his leisure hours he has composed several versus, one of them below.

“Poor Joe Bennett he got wounded.”

Joe Bennett was from Woodland View Fernilee. Joe was a stretcher-bearer with the 1st Sherwood’s and was awarded the Military Medal for Bravery In The Field. He was wounded on at least three occasions.

“But Townsend laid down his life “

George Townsend was killed in 1915 commemorated on this site.

The following W.W.1. Cards were mailed from France by Charles Depledge

Our thanks to Louis Bowden his grandson for the images.

The Reporter November 6th 1915

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