Brookes – Lance Sergeant Oliver

31 May 1889 – 25 October 1940:-

Oliver was born in Paulton, near Midsomer Norton, Somerset and worked at Norton Hill Colliery as a carting boy until he enlisted in 1906, just before his seventeenth birthday. He had a number of health issues and so was transferred to the 1st Class Army Reserve on 17 April 1913.

He returned to his job in the pits, before becoming manager of the Palladium Theatre in Peasedown St John, near his home. He was recalled to the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards in 1914, and by July 1915 had been promoted to Lance Sergeant.

On 8th October 1915 near Loos, France, a strong party of the enemy having captured 200 yards of our trenches, Lance Sergeant Brooks, on his own initiative, led a party of bombers in the most determined manner, and succeeded in regaining possession of the lost ground. The single bravery by this non-commissioned officer, in the midst of a hail of bombs from the Germans, was of the first order, and the complete success attained in a very dangerous undertaking was entirely due to his absolute fearlessness, presence of mind and promptitude.

Oliver was awarded his VC by the King who was badly injured following a fall from his horse whilst in France. He received his medal on a hospital train. The King was in considerable pain and needed assistance to push the VC pin though Brooks’s tunic. He was the only person in the Bath and North East Somerset area to be awarded a VC in the First World War.

After the war, he became a doorman at hotels in Windsor and London. His medals are held by the Coldstream Guards at the Guards Museum in Wellington Barracks, London.

Filed under: WW1