Samuel BROOKFIELD
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 31906
Unit: 2nd Battalion SOUTH LANCASHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 22 March 1918
Age: 27 (29)
Cemetery: Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France

Between April and June 1884, Samuel Brookfield married Jane Fleetwood at St Paul's Church, Portwood. In 1901, the family was living at 7 Terrace Place. 53 year old Samuel worked as a gardener. Jane was then 46. They had five children and the Census records Samuel as being then aged 12. This age is confirmed by the family history website, CheshireBMD, which records the registration of his birth in 1888. His age at date of death, as recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, is therefore wrong.

Little else is known of Samuel's life. He was married - although the Commission records only note her name as C M Brookfield. And he enlisted into the army at Stockport - probably in late 1916 as a conscript.

In November 1917, the German High Command agreed that a decisive strike must be made against what they believed were exhausted British forces in the spring of the following year. The proposed battle would take place on the Somme; the scene of heavy fighting in 1916.

On the day of the "Kaiserschlacht" (Kaiser's Battle), 21 March 1918, the South Lancashires were in huts in a reserve camp at Logeast Wood (near the village of Biefvillers). In the early hours of the morning, heavy shelling from the German artillery could be heard and, just after 9am, the Battalion received orders to move forward about 4 miles to Favreuil.

The long expected attack had begun. By late morning, reports were being received that the Germans had already taken the British first, second and main defensive trench systems. As the troops arrived at Favreuil, they were ordered to take up a position near Vaulx Wood. "D" Company was detached from the others to form a defensive flank on high ground near Vraucourt. The German infantry attacked at about 4pm and were repulsed but with heavy losses on both sides.

The night was fairly quiet but German shelling started soon after dawn, followed by an infantry attack at 7.30. By 8am, they had captured Vaulx Wood and few of the men of "D" Company had managed to escape. Those not dead were captured.

The other three companies were also attacked just after daybreak. The German infantrymen managed to get into the trench system at several points and fierce hand-to-hand fighting took place before they were driven out. Heavy fighting continued all day. At about 5pm, orders were received for the remnants of the Battalion to withdraw 1000 yards

Samuel was one of three local men to be killed during the day. The others were William Hallworth and Harold Perkins. They were probably buried by the advancing Germans who would not, in the circumstances, take particular care in ensuring the individual identification of each body nor, perhaps, of recording the exact location of graves. As such, none of the three now has a known grave and their names are commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Pozieres.

In the early 1920s, when the War Graves Commission collected its next of kin information, Samuel's parents were living at 10 Church Terrace, Heaton Norris.

   
           
   
     
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