Edgar (Nickey) BROOKING


Service Number: 6955
Enlisted: 9 October 1916, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 9th Infantry Battalion
Born: Gatton, Queensland, Australia, 31 December 1892
Home Town: Gatton, Lockyer Valley, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 17 April 1918, aged 25 years
Cemetery: Le Grand Hasard Military Cemetery, Morbecque
4 D 7
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Gatton Weeping Mother Memorial, Kallangur Pine Rivers Memorial Gates, Strathpine District Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

9 Oct 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 6955, 9th Infantry Battalion, Brisbane, Queensland
17 Nov 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 6955, 9th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '9' embarkation_place: Brisbane embarkation_ship: HMAT Kyarra embarkation_ship_number: A55 public_note: ''
17 Nov 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 6955, 9th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Kyarra, Brisbane
17 Apr 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 6955, 9th Infantry Battalion, Villers-Bretonneux

War Service Narrative

BROOKING Edgar #6955 9th Battalion

Edgar Brooking lived with his parents, Selina and Thomas Brooking at Ropley near Gatton. Edgar reported on his attestation papers that he had been born in Gatton and it is most likely that he spent most of his life in that district. Edgar Brooking’s name appears on the Gatton War Memorial, but the reason for his name also appearing on the Pine Rivers Memorial is open to conjecture. In the interests of completion, Edgar’s story is included here.

Edgar presented himself for enlistment in Brisbane on 9th October 1916. At that stage of the war, the huge casualty lists from the battles at Fromelles, Pozieres and Mouquet Farm were appearing every day in local newspapers and the Australian government was being pressured by Britain to increase its commitment to providing replacement troops; even to the extent of introducing conscription.

With the situation regarding reinforcements so serious, it is little wonder that Edgar was accepted into the AIF; not withstanding that he was only 5’2” tall and weighed in at only 110 lbs. Edgar reported that he was 22 years old, single, a farmer of Gatton. His medical exam noted that he required dental work.

After a relatively short period of training at Enoggera during which Edgar was placed into the 23rd reinforcements of the 9th Battalion, he boarded the “Kyarra” in Brisbane on 17th November 1916. The embarkation roll shows that Edgar had nominated his mother as next of kin and 3/- of his daily pay would be allotted to her. While at sea on 8th January, Edgar was admonished for striking matches during the blackout period.

Upon arrival in Plymouth, the reinforcements were marched into the 3rd Training Battalion at Tidworth in February 1917. Edgar would spend a lengthy period in the training battalion before being finally deployed to France. He was taken on strength by the 9th on 9th November 1917, almost twelve months leaving Brisbane. The 9th Battalion was part of the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Division AIF. The battalion had seen action at Gallipoli (where they were the first battalion ashore), Pozieres and Mouquet Farm in 1916, Bullecourt and Passchendaele in 1917. When Edgar joined the battalion, they were enjoying a well earned rest in the rear area winter quarters in the region of the French Belgian border at Hazebrouk. In February 1918, Edgar was absent from his billet and was sentenced to 4 days field punishment.

The spring of 1918 heralded a series of offensives by the Germans. The most serious of these was a concerted thrust towards Amiens in the Somme; but there was also activity in the Ypres sector of Belgian Flanders. During April, the bulk of the Australian force was moved south to meet the German push towards Amiens, however the 1st Division remained in Northern France to counter the German thrust across the fields of Flanders that had been won at such high cost a few months before.

On 17th April, the Battalion War Diary recorded a sustained heavy German artillery barrage landing on the forward trench system which lasted for 5 hours. The diary goes on to record quite matter of factly that casualties were quite light with only 4 killed and 11 wounded. Sadly for Edgar Brooking he was one of the four killed. This bombardment may well have been his first experience of artillery and perhaps his inexperience contributed to his death.

Edgar was buried on the battlefield near the outpost trench with a chaplain in attendance. He had not quite turned 24. His mother received his personal effects comprising a YMCA wallet, some cards, letters and photographs. Three photographs of his grave were also sent to the Brooking home in Gatton. In the 1920’s isolated graves across the western front were consolidated into military cemeteries. Edgar was reinterred at Le Grand Hasard Military Cemetery outside of Hazebrouk. In due course his parents received Edgar’s campaign medals, a memorial plaque (often referred to as the dead man’s penny) and a scroll signed by the King.

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Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Edgar's parents were Thomas William Brooking and Selina Austin. Edgar was the grandson of John and Elisabeth Austin who were early pioneers in the Lawnton District. He was working as a farmer when he enlisted from Brisbane on 9 October 1916. He was killed in action 17 April 1918 in France.

Mr. T. Brooking, of Caboolture, has received the news that his brother, Private Edgar ("Nickey") Brooking, was killed in action on April 17, 1918, in France.