J Brooks was an employee of the Co-operative Wholesale Society in the drapery department in Nottingham prior to enlisting in the army. When he did so in July 1916, he joined the Royal Garrison Artillery, 192nd Siege Battalion.
His Battalion was sent to fight in Greece on 13 January 1917. There had been British troops stationed in Salonika since 1915 to prevent the Bulgarians and Austrians from invading Greece. The British had been able to push the invading troops back to Serres in the north, and in April 1917 they launched a fresh push to take some of the Bulgarians positions. This attack was initially a success, but the British had to fall back after a Bulgarian counter attack.
Brooks was given military honours for his conduct. According to the Co-operative News, his terms of recommendation were ‘Devotion to duty, untiring energy in organising shoots, and expert assistance in forward observation posts under shell fire.’
The war in the Balkans was finally ended with an armistice on 30 September 1918 after a final push by Allied forces.
Co-operative News, 26 May 1917, page 499.
WWI co-operative voices
This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.
Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.
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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.