The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3781) Second Lieutenant William Charles Lowry Brooks, 51st Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.118
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 28 April 2018
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (3781) Second Lieutenant William Charles Lowry Brooks, 51st Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

3781 Second Lieutenant William Charles Lowry Brooks, 51st Battalion, AIF
KIA 30 March 1918
Story delivered 28 April 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Second Lieutenant William Charles Lowry Brooks.

William Brooks was born on 13 May 1894 in South Townsville, Queensland, to George and Amelia Brooks. He grew up in Townsville and attended Townsville Central School, where he served in the school cadets, reaching the rank of colour sergeant.

In a devastating blow to the family, Brooks’ mother Amelia died in 1909 after a long battle with a brain tumour. His father continued to raise his family as best he could.

After leaving school, William Brooks went to work as a clerk at the Townsville office of the Adelaide Steamships Company.

With the outbreak of the First World War, Brooks enlisted for service in the Australian Imperial Force on 14 April 1915. After some initial training, he was allotted to the 1st reinforcements to the 7th Field Ambulance.

Before his departure, Brooks’ colleagues at the Adelaide Steamship Company gave him a farewell party and presented him with an engraved wrist watch. He left Brisbane with his unit on 24 May aboard the transport ship Ascanius, bound for Egypt.

In Egypt, he reunited with his older brother George, a light horseman. The brothers spent an evening together in Cairo before George left for Gallipoli the following day. Brooks worked for several months in Egypt, unloading the wounded from ships and transporting them to hospital.

He was sent to Gallipoli in September and in a letter home, wrote that he had seen a number of people from Townsville, but he hadn’t been able to meet George as he was some distance away. William Brooks served on Gallipoli until the final days of the campaign. After returning to Egypt, he was transferred to the 13th Field Ambulance and sailed with his unit to France in June.

Brooks was promoted to lance corporal in early July, and by the end of the month was an acting corporal. He was then promoted to corporal in September, and in early March 1917 was seconded to the baths unit at Albert and was promoted to acting sergeant. A week later, he contracted mumps and was hospitalised.

Brooks re-joined the 13th Field Ambulance in early April. In August, he was selected to attend officer cadet school and joined the No. 6 Officer Cadet Battalion at Oxford. He passed his course and was commissioned on 29 November with the rank of second lieutenant. Brooks was posted to the general infantry reinforcements and sent to France in December, where he was posted to the 51st Battalion.

In late March 1918, as the German Army launched its Spring Offensive, the 51st Battalion was sent forward to relieve a British unit near the village of Bresle. During the afternoon of the 30th of March, the battalion the Australians came under German artillery fire. Brooks and two other men were killed.
Though Brooks had reportedly been buried in the churchyard at Bresle, attempts to locate his resting place made after the war were unsuccessful, and his name was added to the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.

His brother George went on to serve with the artillery on the Western Front and was gassed during the closing stages of the Third Ypres campaign, returning to Australia in April 1918.

William Brooks’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among almost 62,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Second Lieutenant William Charles Lowry Brooks, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

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