Brookes, Wilfrid Mark Hamilton (Mark)
No. 37846, 231 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Died as a result of enemy action on Tuesday 15 April 1941 (aged 23)
Sannox Old Churchyard, Kilbride, Isle of Arran (West Extension)
Corrie War Memorial, Isle of Arran
Fulneck School War Memorial, Leeds
Wilfrid Mark Hamilton (Mark) Brookes was born on 3 November 1917 and he was a son of the Revd Wilfrid Stanley Brookes and Jane MacNaught Brookes (nee Brown) of Corrie, Ayrshire in Scotland. They were married on 1 June 1909 in Hillhead United Free Church in Glasgow. Before becoming a Presbyterian Minister, Wilfrid Stanley Brookes was a commercial traveller. The Brookes family lived for a time in Canada and, in 1920, they were living at 25 Willowbank Street in Glasgow, which had been Jane’s home address. They had four children – Margaret Winifred (Greta); Edwin (Ted); Mark (born 3 November 1917) and Janet Sheila. The Brookes family also lived at 35 Hyde Park Terrace in Leeds (the Reverend Wilfrid’s hometown) and also for a time in Jamaica where the Reverend Brookes was a missionary. Wilfrid Mark Hamilton Brookes attended Fulneck School in Leeds from April 1931 until December 1934 and during the Second World War he served with the Royal Air Force in France, Belgium and Northern Ireland. His brother Ted also served with the RAF and, after the war, became a doctor.
Between 10.45 pm and 4.30 am during the night of Easter Tuesday 15 April and Wednesday 16 April 1941 there was a large-scale German Luftwaffe air raid on the City of Belfast. Other nearby towns and villages, including Bangor and Newtownards, were also attacked. Areas of Bangor where bombs fell included Ashley Gardens, Bangor Golf Clubhouse, Baylands, Farnham Road, Hazeldene Gardens and Ranfurly Avenue. Fires blazed on Scrabo Hill, Newtownards and bombs fell on Green Road, Conlig and Comber Road, Newtownards. At least 28 people with North Down and Ards connections were killed, including the following 14 civilians.
- Matilda Grattan together with her daughters Angeline Grattan and Shelagh Grattan who died at 40 Ashley Gardens in Bangor.
- Margaret Byers Watt who died at 5 Hazeldene Gardens in Bangor.
- Robert Wright of 32 Baylands, Bangor who died of his injuries in Bangor Hospital.
- Edith, Henry, Isabella and William Dunwoody; Nancy Simms Gribbin; Thomas Morton; Bessie, Ellen Ogle and Evelyn Tate who all died in Belfast.
That night the aerodrome at Newtownards, which was the Headquarters of 231 Squadron, Royal Air Force was attacked. The aerodrome was guarded by soldiers of the 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, some of whom were too young for front line service and were deployed instead on the home front. Newtownards aerodrome was attacked with a considerable number of incendiary bombs and some high explosive bombs. One high explosive bomb that fell on the hutments of ‘A’ Company Headquarters killed 13 men, all of whom served with the 70th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Most were killed instantly, and the remainder died the following day as a result of their injuries:
- Fusilier William Bellamy (aged 28)
- Fusilier Samuel Burke (aged 18)
- Lance Corporal Alexander Carlisle
- Fusilier Andrew Copling (aged 16)
- Fusilier Hugh Fulton (aged 17)
- Fusilier George Graham
- Fusilier Daniel Higgins
- Fusilier Leslie Love (aged 34)
- Fusilier Samuel McFarland (aged 19)
- Company Quartermaster Sergeant William McMurray (aged 27)
- Fusilier Ernest McNeill (aged 17)
- Warrant Officer Class II Alfred Penfold (aged 36)
- Fusilier Matthew Wright (aged 18)
The casualties were all taken to Ards District Hospital in Newtownards.
Flight Lieutenant Wilfrid Mark Hamilton Brookes (aged 23) of 231 Squadron, RAF (stationed at Newtownards) who was in Belfast at the time, was killed during the air raid and he was buried in Sannox Old Churchyard, Kilbride on the Isle of Arran, Scotland. There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:
WHY SEEK YE THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD?
HE IS NOT HERE, BUT IS RISEN
ST. LUKE XXIV 5.6
Flight Lieutenant Wilfrid Mark Hamilton Brookes’s father died on 16 May 1956 and was buried beside his son. There is an inscription on his headstone:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF THE REVEREND WILFRID STANLEY BROOKES
DIED 16TH MARCH1956 AGED 74 YEARS
FAITHFUL MINISTER OF THIS PARISH FOR 19 YEARS
HE IS NOT DEAD, HE DOTH NOT SLEEP
HE HATH AWAKENED FROM THE DREAM OF LIFE
ALSO HIS WIFE MARGARET DIED 7TH JULY 1967
Sources in Kilbride have confirmed that Mark’s mother, Jane McNaught Brookes, was always known affectionately as Margaret. Jane McNaught Brookes was 82 when she died in 1967 and her death was registered in Aberdeen.
Flight Lieutenant Wilfrid Mark Hamilton Brookes is commemorated on Corrie War Memorial, Isle of Arran and in Fulneck School, Leeds. A tribute was published in the July 1941 edition of the Fulneck School Magazine:
‘It was with the deepest regret that we received information of the death on active service of Flight Lieutenant W.M.H. Brookes, who had been serving in the Royal Air Force for five years and had seen service in France and Belgium and was subsequently posted to Northern Ireland. His Wing Commander writes of him: “He was one of the world’s best. Cheerful but unassuming, he always showed a very keen and active interest in his profession. He was my best flight commander and the most experienced pilot in the squadron. The service and the country can ill afford to lose such a valuable officer. He will be greatly missed in the Mess, as he was without any doubt the most popular member of it. He leaves behind him a host of friends in the service.” We remember with affection the many fine qualities which W.M.H. Brookes possessed, and we offer our sympathy to his relatives.’