It is possible that Edward is commemorated twice on the Stockport War Memorial with his initials transposed, as there is an inscription to a man named A E Brooks who has not otherwise been identified.
His parents were Amos, a machine minder, and Elizabeth and the family would live in the London area for most of the 1890s. Edward was born in Lambeth and four younger children, Amos, Helen, Amy and Reginald, were born in Southwark. In about 1896, they moved to Wigan where, the following year, Ruth was born. At the time of the 1901 Census they were still living in the town, at 22 Hill Street.
It’s not known when they moved to the Stockport area, but in September 1914, he married his fiancée, Elsie Mabel Jennings, at St Matthews Church in Stockport. They lived at 4 Port Street and would have a daughter together. Edward is thought to have enlisted into the amry around late 1914/early 1915.
At the beginning of July, the Brigade was moving from reserve positions in France towards the front line near the Belgian town of Ypres (now Ieper), ready to take part in the offensive scheduled to start at the end of the month. Edward was one of the officers’ servants (a batman, in today’s terms) and was with his officer reconnoitring the advanced area in preparation for the arrival of the guns and the main body of men. His officer wrote to Elsie to tell her what had happened:-
“At midnight on 6th July, we were under fire and your husband with others had got under cover in an old building when a shell burst about twenty yards away and the splinters penetrated a wooden partition in front of the doorway and struck your husband in the leg, stomach and region of the heart. He died in five minutes after being struck and suffered no pain as he was unconscious at once. We were miles ahead of the battery. He was my servant on active service and I was very attached to him and it was only the other day he had spoken to me about you and the little girl saying how much he wanted to see you again.”
When the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information in the early 1920s, Elsie had moved south and was living at 53 Bertram Road, Hendon, London.