Rank Signalman
Service No London 6/2627
Date of Death 26/11/1914
Age 21
Regiment/Service Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve HMS 'Bulwark'
Memorial Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent.

 

Edgar was born in 1893, being baptised on 15th May 1893 at Christ Church West Green, Haringey. His parents were Gertrude Emily Brookes, nee Marrable (1859-1907) and Arthur Charles Brookes (1863-1932), an advertising agent. Edgar was one of four children, the others being Leonard (b.1889), Constance (b.1891) and Doris (b.1898).

At the time of the 1901 Census, the family were living in Enfield and his father was an employer working in printing and publishing. In 1907, Edgar’s mother died, and the children soon left home or, in the case of Doris, were sent away to boarding school. His father, then a publisher, moved to Norfolk and there married Enid Millicent, some 24 years his junior and just 1 year older than his son Leonard. In 1911, aged 17, Edgar was working as a printer in Luton, and boarding with a retired couple and their daughter. At the time of Edgar’s death, his father and step-mother lived in Finchley, at Moira, Holly Park. His name is listed in the December 1914 edition of the St Luke’s Finchley monthly magazine roll of honour.

Thus far, we have been unable to trace when Edgar enlisted in the Navy. As he died less than four months after the outbreak of war, it is highly likely that he was a regular and had entered military service sometime between 1911 and 1914. 

Edgar was on board HMS Bulwark when a powerful internal explosion ripped the ship apart at 7.50am on 26 November 1914 while she was moored 4.6 miles west of Sheerness in the estuary of the River Medway. Within the three minutes it took for the smoke to clear, the ship had completely disappeared. Though theories abound as to what caused the explosion, the most likely cause appears to have been overheating of cordite charges stored alongside a boiler room bulkhead. This was the explanation accepted by the court of enquiry.

Out of her complement of 750, no officers and only 14 sailors survived, two of whom subsequently died of their injuries in hospital. Edgar was one of the hundreds of sailors whose body was not recovered or identified.