CWG: Captain Hugh Brooking

Captain Hugh Brooking

Hugh Cyril Arthur Brooking was born on 15th September 1870 and was one of six children (although he also had three further half-siblings through his father’s first marriage). His father, Arthur Brooking, was the vicar of the Hertfordshire village of Bovingdon, and it was in the vicarage that he and his wife Marian raised their family (with the help of seven servants).

Hugh led a life befitting of a reverend’s son; he was educated at St Mark’s School in Windsor, Lancing College and Down College, both in Sussex. He continued his studies at the Mining College in London (now part of Imperial College London), and went out to South Africa to further that work.

The local newspaper reporting on his funeral takes up the story:

When the Boer War broke out he joined the Imperial Light Horse, and was engaged in the battles of Elandslaagte, Wagon Hill and others, was in Ladysmith during the siege, and the relief of Mafeking. He was several times mentioned in despatches, and obtained the Queen’s medal and six clasps, and the King’s medal with two clasps. He then joined the South African Constabulary, under General Baden Powell.

He had previously held a commission in the North Somerset Yeomanry, and after leaving it for a short time he re-joined a soon as the [First World War] was declared, and was in France with his regiment when it made its famous stand against the Prussian Guards. All his superior officers were killed or wounded, and he was temporarily in command of the regiment.

He received the ribbon of the 1914 Star of Mons, but did not live to get the star. He served with the regiment 20 years. He was latterly attached to the Labour Corps at West Ham.

Captain Brooking came to Frome with his parents as a boy. In his youth he was a thorough sportsman, well known in the hunting field, genial and kindly, ready with a pleasant word, and courteous to all, he won friendly appreciation from all classes of townsfolk.

He had seen a great deal of fighting, though from exposure and other causes his health suffered, and he was employed on home service.

He was in command of the 371st Labour Company, and second in command of his battalion, when he met with the slight accident which led to his death. He grazed his knuckles, causing bleeding, but of so slight a character that no notice was taken of it. A few hours later he again struck his hand ,and fresh paint appears to have affected the wound, and blood poisoning supervened.

Somerset Standard: Friday 7th June 1918.

In his personal life, Hugh had met and married Florence Day, a farmer’s daughter seventeen years his junior from Somerset. The wedding was in the autumn of 1912, and they would go on to have two children, Granville and Hugh Jr. The boys would both go on to lead distinguished lives, Granville in the armed forces and Hugh as a ‘King’s Messenger’ in South America.

Following Captain Brooking’s injury, he was admitted to the Military Hospital in Purfleet but the treatment he received there was to do no good. Three months after the accident, on 31st May 1918, he passed away; he was 47 years of age.

Hugh Cyril Arthur Brooking’s body was taken back to Frome; he was laid to rest in the graveyard of St John the Baptist Church in the town.


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Captain Hugh Brooking
(from findagrave.com)

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