15 Trio correctly named SS5323 JH Brooks AB RN
RFR LSGC correctly named SS5303 (PO B 108521) JH Brooks AB RFR
Jesse Howard Brooks was born to Joseph and Jane in Wakefield in April 1896.
Prior to service with the Royal Navy, he worked as a pony driver in a mine. His address given prior to service was ‘The Fold’, Stanley, Yorkshire.
Having enlisted in 1915, Jesse soon found himself aboard the ex RMS ship Andes in April 1915 when it was requisitioned by the War Office to become an armed merchant cruiser.
Armed Merchant Cruisers
Armed Merchant Cruisers (AMC) were deployed by the British in both World War I and World War II1. They were generally adapted from passenger liners and were larger than the German merchant raiders. They were used as convoy escorts and did not disguise themselves. At the beginning of World War I, British passenger liners were requisitioned by the Royal Navy for conversion to armed merchant cruisers to form the 10th Cruiser Squadron and to relieve the strain on the regular cruisers by undertaking lone patrols and later, convoy escort duties. However, they ultimately proved to have limited value and many, particularly ocean liners, were later converted into troopships.
The Action of February 29th, 1916
The action of 29 February 1916 was a naval engagement fought during the First World War between the United Kingdom and the German Empire. SMS Greif, a German commerce raider, broke out into the North Sea and Admiral Sir John Jellicoe dispatched Royal Navy warships to intercept the raider. Four British vessels intercepted the commerce raider Greif. The armed merchant cruiser RMS Alcantara and Greif fought a brief engagement before British reinforcements arrived when both were severely damaged, both being sunk.
The Andes, about 5 miles out from the battle area heard the gunfire and closed to within 3 miles of SMS Greif and opened fire. Her first shots struck Greifs bridge and destroyed her steering gear.
SMS Greif then fired two torpedoes at the Alcantra which were to devastate her and in turn SMS Greif was fired upon and her fuel tanks exploded and hull breached.
8.50am: Sighted suspicious steamer 2 masts black funnel Norwegian flags on side a/c to keep ahead (Greif was disguised as a Norwegian ship, Rena)
8.55m: a/c ENE Revs 80 log 36 range 24000 yards
9.35am: Submarine reported: opened fire with Starboard 6 pounder
9.45am: Closed from 16800 yards
10.26am: Enemy opened fire on Alcantara
10.27am: Engaged with German Raider S.M.S. Greif 6700 yds
10.40am: Enemy on Fire
10.45am: Alcantara Heavy List to Port
10,50am: Enemy out of Action Abandoning Ship
10.50am: HMS Comus & Destroyer Minster in sight
10.55am: Alcantara abandoning ship
11am: Alcantara sank
11.20am: Enemy Flag still flying
11.35am: Comus & Andes engaged to sink Raider Speeds & Courses various throughout Action. All Submarine Reports unfounded.
12 noon: Picked up the Body of Thomas Daniel Casey Gunner RN of Alcantara
12.45pm Received 3 Alcantara’s Ratings from Raft
1pm: Raider Sank
1.33pm: Stopped & commenced picking up survivors
1.05pm: Cutter assisting in saving survivors. Taking in prisoners
1.15pm: Full speed submarine reported on port bow hands to action
3.37pm: Thoroughly searched Area for survivors & proceeded 80 revs c/various
4.05pm: Stopped Exchanged signals with Patia
4.25pm: Patias’s cutter alongside received Armed Guard
5.10pm: Evening Quarters and read prayers
The Andes picked survivors from the waters and delivered 120 German sailors to Liverpool to become prisoners of war.
230 men of SMS Greif perished along with 68 crew from the Alcantra.
Jesse entered service with the RFR in March 1920, the same year he married Alice Pygott.
In 1921,we find them living at Spa Fold, Stanley, Yorkshire and Jesse is working as a boiler firer for the Victoria Coal & Coke Company based inn Outwood, Wakefield.
Joseph died in Stanley in 1975.
All medals are swing mounted as worn on a clasp with original silk ribbons.