Private, L/10415, 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
Killed in Action near Le Touret, Richebourg l'Avoué,
Pas de Calais, France, on 1 January 1915, aged 25
Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial: Panel 20

Charlie Brooker
Click to enlarge

Private Charles Frederick Brooker was born in Brighton in 1890, son of George and Harriet Brooker. In 1891 he and his family were living in Marlborough Street, Brighton, but in 1901 the family was in Brunswick Street, Hove, where father George was enumerated as a cab driver and groom. There were four siblings: George, Florence, Lily and Daisy. It was his sister Lily, as Lilian M. Stow — then living at Oak Cottage in Forest Row — who is recorded as having signed in the Forest Row Memorial Book. By 1911, Charles was boarding at 18 Malvern Street, Hove with the Steinhardt family (which ironically had a German-born head), and his occupation was given as fishmonger.

Presumably, Charles joined up at the outbreak of the war, but there is some confusion about which battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment he joined and when. Both the medal roll, which shows him to have been entitled to the Victory and/or British War Medal, and the Register of Soldiers' Effects states that he was in the 2nd, while the Memorial Book puts him in the 3rd. However, the 3rd was a reserve battalion, serving at the Newhaven Garrison, while the 2nd landed in France in 1914, so it seems reasonable to speculate that Charles went to France with the 2nd battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment in August 1914 and that it is the memorial book which is wrong.

Le Touret Cemetery and Memorial

Le Touret Memorial and Cemetery
(Click to enlarge)

During his time on the Western Front Private Brooker wrote a war diary, an extract of which was published in a newspaper. (Unfortunately we do not have a source or date for the cutting, which was obtained online.) Brooker writes in the diary that he had arrived in Belgium on 22 August and proceeds to describe the action he was involved in. The newspaper notes that he had been wounded in the right thigh by a shell burst on 11 November 1914 and that he was now in a hospital in Paris.

Extract from Charlie Brooker's war diary
Click to enlarge

The 2nd Battalion's war diary shows it to have been at Cambrin, about 7 kilometres from the Le Touret memorial at the beginning of 1915, so it is possible that the following reference on 1 January to 'missing' men may have included Charles, as he has no grave:

Casualties in last night's affair...4 rank and file killed, 7 wounded and 10 missing.

The next day the battalion was relieved by the Cameron Highlanders, but the diary records that a great number of men had been lost between 24 December and 2 January.

The Register of Soldiers' Effects notes that on 1 August 1915, Charles Brooker was 'missing...Death presumed'. A gratuity £7 3s.8d. was paid to his father George on 31 March 1916 and a further £5 to his brother George on 12 December 1919.

Pam Griffiths