Brooke R Sub Lt Hood Btn RN Div Hood Battalion Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Brooke R Sub Lt Hood Btn RN Div Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Brooke R Sub Lt Hood Btn RN Div Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve


RUPERT CHAWNER BROOKE was the second son of William Parker Brooke, Assistant Master and House Master at Rugby School, and formerly Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, and of Mary Ruth his wife.

He entered the School with a Scholarship in 1901. In 1905 he was in the XV, and in 1906 in the XI. He won the School Prize for an English Poem on the “Bastille,” and the King’s Medal. In 1906 he went up to King’s College, Cambridge, as Senior Classical Scholar. His University distinctions included a Second Class in the Classical Tripos, the Harness Prize won by an Essay on “Puritanism and the Drama,” the Charles Oldham Shakespeare Scholarship, won by a dissertation on John Webster (afterwards published), and, like his father, he gained a Fellowship at his own College. Besides visiting Germany and Italy, he made a journey to America and the Pacific Islands. He was deeply interested in social questions. He was the author of two books of verse, “Poems,” published in 1911, and “1914,” published in 1915, and of “Letters from America,” published, after his death, in 1915.

Soon after the outbreak of War he joined the Royal Naval Division, and was sent, in October, with the Expedition to Antwerp. In February he sailed for the Dardanelles and died on a French Hospital Ship from blood poisoning on April 23rd, 1915. He was buried at Skyros. Age 27. Two accounts of him were given in the “Meteor,” May 28th, 1915  (No. 585).

General Sir Ian Hamilton, G.C.B., D.S.O., General Officer Commanding the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, wrote, on hearing of his illness:- “The wording of the message terrifies me. What a misfortune! I have kept his A.D.C.-ship open for him all the time, and as soon as the Dardanelles affair was over, he was, supposing us both alive, to have come on to my Staff. But he was bound, he said, to see this first fight through with his own fellows. I have his last poems on my table, and you know how deep was my admiration for his intellect, an admiration which lost nothing, as so many admirations do, by contact with his personality. I pray fervently he may yet pull through.”

His Colonel wrote:–

“I feel his loss immensely, for, since he came to my Battalion, I have had one long opportunity of observing him and getting to know his character and its charm and many fine points. His men were devoted to him and he had all the makings of a first-class officer. His country and his friends could ill spare him.”

The Right Honourable Winston Churchill wrote :- “During the last few months of his life, months of preparation in gallant comradeship and open air, the poet soldier told with all the force of genius the sorrow of youth about to die and the sure triumphant consolation of a sincere and valiant spirit. He expected to die, he was willing to die for the dear England whose beauty and majesty he knew; and he advanced towards the brink in perfect serenity, with absolute conviction of the righteousness of his country’s cause and a heart devoid of hate for fellow men. The thoughts to which he gave expression in the very few in- comparable War sonnets, which he has left behind, will be shared by many thousands of young men, moving resolutely and blithely forward into this, the hardest, the cruellest, and the least rewarded of all the wars that men have fought. They are a whole history and revelation of Rupert Brooke himself. Joyous, fearless, versatile, deeply instructed, with classic symmetry of mind and body, ruled by high undoubting purpose, he was all that one would wish England’s noblest sons to be in days when no sacrifice but the most precious is acceptable, and the most precious is that which is most freely offered.”

His brother Officer, Sub-Lieutenant W. C. Denis-Browne (O.R.), subsequently killed, wrote of his funeral:- “We found a most lovely place for his grave, about a mile up a valley from the sea, an olive grove above a watercourse, dry now, but torrential in winter. Two mountains flank it on either side, and Mount Khokilas is at its head. We chose a place in the most lovely grove I have ever seen, or imagined, a little glade of about a dozen trees, carpeted with mauve-flowering sage. Over his head droops an olive tree, and round it is a little space clear of all undergrowth.”

“About a quarter-past nine the funeral party arrived and made their way up the steep, narrow and rocky path that leads to the grove. was so rough and uncertain that we had to have men with lamps every twenty yards to guide the bearers. He was borne by Petty Officers of his own Company, and so slowly did they go that it was not till nearly eleven that they reached the grave.”

“We buried him by cloudy moonlight. He wore his uniform and on the coffin were his helmet, belt, and pistol (he had no sword). We lined the grave with flowers and olive, and Colonel Quilter laid an olive wreath on the coffin. The Chaplain who saw him in the afternoon read the service very simply. The firing party fired three volleys and the bugles sounded the Last Post. And so we laid him to rest in that lovely valley, his head towards those mountains that he would have loved to know, and his feet towards the sea. He once said in chance talk that he would like to be buried in a Greek island. He could have no lovelier one than Skyros, and no quieter resting place.  On the grave we heaped great blocks of white marble ; the men of his Company made a great wooden cross for his head, with his name upon it, and his Platoon put a smaller one at his feet. On the back of the large cross our interpreter wrote in Greek : ‘Here lies the servant of God, Sub-Lieutenant in the English Navy, who died for the deliverance of Constantinople from the Turks.’  The next morning we sailed, and had no chance of revisiting his grave.”

His only surviving brother, Second Lieut. W. A. C. Brooke (O.R.), was killed on June i4th, 1915.

Source : Memorials Of Rugbeians Who Fell In The Great War Vol 1

Posted in Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

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