Bridge of Weir

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1881 Lance Corporal James Brooks

1st/9th Battalion, Royal Scots
att 5th Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)

killed in action 29th October 1916

aged 20

Thiepval Memorial
St Machar's Church Memorial, Bridge of Weir

Son of William Brooks and Mary McKay
Windsor Place, Bridge of Weir

His Life

James Brooks was born on 15th July 1896 in Bridge of Weir, 8 minutes after his twin sister Jane, to William Brooks, a shoemaker originally from Drumachose, Northern Ireland and Mary McKay, a cotton mill worker from Bridge of Weir who had married in Bridge of Weir on 18th March 1881.

In the 1881 Census, William (21) and Mary (18) were lodging with Mary Rennie in Alexander's Land, Bridge of Weir.

By 1891 they had their own two-roomed flat in Alexander's Land and their first four children.

In 1901 the Brooks family had grown to eleven, and all were living at Gryffe View, Bridge of Weir. The father and eldest son William were both bootmakers and repairers. Mary's most recent confinements had delivered two sets of twins, now aged 4 (James and Jane) and 1. A son, Thomas, was no longer in the family home.

By 1911 the family was living in a 3-roomed flat in 4 Windsor Place, Main Street, Bridge of Weir. William and William junior were still bootmakers and repairers. Elizabeth was a restaurant waitress, Mary and Agnes were both saleswomen in a mantle warehouse and all the other children, including James (14), were at school. Son John was no longer in the family home, but the youngest, Ann, maintained the same total of eleven in the household. William Brooks senior died on 22nd November 1912 at 5 Hillside Street, Edinburgh.

James Brooks attested in Edinburgh before the war, probably in May or June 1914, and being only 17 was put into the reserve battalion 2/9th Royal Scots (Private, No. 1786). He was transferred to B Company of the second reserve battalion, 3/9th Royal Scots, on 11th November 1915.

He first joined the theatre of war in France on 12th December 1915 and was wounded in 1916. At the time of his death on 29th October 1916 he was a Lance Corporal with the 5th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), part of 19th Brigade, 33rd Division. It is possible he transferred there when he returned to active duty after recuperating from his wound. That date matches the battalion account of an attack on Hazy trench, the Somme, at 5.45am. Three platoons of "D" Company met with disaster. Machine gun fire mowed them down. Three sections of a reserve platoon suffered a similar fate. In a thirty minute attack, two officers and 26 men were killed and 34 wounded. James Brooks' name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Battle of the Somme.


1891 Census 1901 Census 1911 Census Birthplace
Name Age Name Age Name Age
William9 William19William29 Bridge of Weir
Thomas7 Bridge of Weir
Elizabeth5 Elizabeth15Elizabeth25 Bridge of Weir
Mary3 Mary13Mary23 Bridge of Weir
Agnes9Agnes19 Bridge of Weir
John 7 Bridge of Weir
Jane 4Jane14 Bridge of Weir
James4James14 Bridge of Weir
George M 1George Mason11 Bridge of Weir
Catherine 1Catherine11 Bridge of Weir
Ann7 Bridge of Weir