Harry was born in Saxlingham Nethergate on 29 August 1897. He was one of eight children. His parents were Ernest and Justina Brookes. Ernest was a postman and in 1901 they lived on Pitts Hill.
Harry’s brother and sisters were
Alfred E G born 1895
Edith M born 1896
Helen F born 1899
Annie E born 1900
Stanley born 1902
Oswald born 1904
Katie born 1906
He continued to live with his parents until he enlisted 9 August 1915. He joined the Royal Field Artillery and gave his occupation as blacksmith improver. He was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 115 lbs with a chest measurement of 34 inches. His service number was 105913/
He was originally a driver and was posted to France 21 November 1915 .
He qualified as a hot shoeing smith on 1 June 1917. From that time he worked as a shoeing smith instead of a driver. He was in France until 1 April 1919 except for 10 days leave in 1917 and twelve days in 1918.
He agreed to stay on in the army of occupation in Germany and was there from 2 April till 31 August 1919. He became a corporal on 1 August 1919.
He left the army on 3 November 1919.
In early 1921 he married Elsie Hannah Victoria Neal, born 28 June 1892. She was a widow, her maiden name was English and she grew up in Saxlingham Nethergate. She was baptised in Saxlingham Church on August 4 1895. In 1915 she had married James Neal in Godstone, Surrey. He had died there in December 1918. It is assumed that after his death she returned to her family in Saxlingham Nethergate.
Harry and Elsie had four children who were born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. They were Daphne A Brookes born 1924, (she died in 1935 aged 11 years old) Geoffrey E Brookes born 1926, Queenie M Brookes born 1929 and Jean L Brookes born 1931.
In 1939 the family were living on Saxlingham Green and Harry was working as a shoeing and general blacksmith.
In later life Harry worked as a postman in the village.
He died in 1979.
His brothers Alfred and Stanley both emigrated to New South Wales in Australia. Stanley died in a tragic accident in Little Bay, New South Wales in 1941. The Coroner’s inquest stated that ‘He had died from 2nd degrees burns accidently sustained after he fell into a boiler containing hot wood pulp and caustic soda’.
Alfred had served in Royal Field Artillery but by 1922 was living in Australia. Both he and his brother worked in the paper making industry and married Australian women.
England & Wales, Birth, marriage, death index 1837-2005
UK Census Collection
British Army Medal Roll Index cards, 1914-1920
1939 Register- www.findmypast.co.uk
Norfolk Electoral Roll, Absent Voters List, Saxlingham Nethergate, Norfolk 1918-1920
British Army Service Records
Norfolk, Church of England Diocesan Baptismal Records, Saxlingham Nethergate.
New South Wales, Registers of Coroner’s Inquest 1941.