HENRY CLIVE ROOKE & CLAUD EUGENE ROOKE
This post was written by Victoria Doran
Two brothers, both Lieutenants in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, from a well off family with Swiss origins, only moved to the area shortly before the war, though the family had several family connections with north west Wirral.
King’s Own Scottish Borderers cap badge
It is not known what names the brothers were actually called by, so they will be referred to as Henry and Claude in what follows.
The earliest Rooke that has been found is Jean Henry Louis Chamot Rooke (1822-1890), generally recorded as plain Henry Rooke, though members of the family often used the surname Chamot Rooke. He was born in Switzerland, and married Louisa Elizabeth Golay (1828-1904) of Geneva there. By 1853 when the first of their eleven children was born the family was living in Liverpool, where he was a broker. The family were well off, as he employed at least 2 servants. Henry Rooke was living at Mont Fleurie, Stanley Road, Hoylake when he died in 1890. Many of his children eventually ended up around Wirral, living in Hoylake, Bebington, Wallasey, Rock Ferry and Birkenhead. This was a common move for prosperous families as travel from the Wirral to Liverpool became easier whilst living conditions in Liverpool deteriorated from the latter part of the 19th century.
Their 2nd son and 4th child, Louis Frank Rooke (1857-1917) was born in Salisbury Street, Everton and baptised at St Augustine, Everton on 11 Dec 1858. He and his elder brother Charles (1855-1891) were boarding school pupils at Netherleigh House, Eaton Road, Chester in 1871. This looks to have been a preparatory school, but it is not known when he left school or where else he may have been educated. He became a commercial clerk and eventually a broker like his father. In January 1887 he married Constance Hammond (1862-1923) after banns were published at St John the Divine, Fairfield.
Constance was the youngest of the 8 children of William John Hammond (1833-1903) and Mary Hannah Whittaker (1827-1864). She would not have remembered her mother who died when she was only 18 months old. A mere 5 months later her father was remarried to Annie Mannock (1844-1895) and a half sister Eva was born in 1866, completing the family.
William John Hammond came from Leeds, Yorkshire but had moved to Liverpool by the age of 18 when he married Mary Hannah on 29 May 1851 at St George, Everton. They were married by Certificate, so they were non Conformists of some ilk.
He worked as a printer lithographer. Mary Hannah’s father, Thomas Whittaker (1801-???) was a spirit dealer and brewer. He died in the 1840s and left his widow and daughters with some assets, as all 3 daughters were ‘proprietors of houses’ at the 1851 census.
William must have decided that brewing was a better option than printing, as around 1856 he switched his occupation to brewer. The family were now Anglicans as all their children were baptised as such. By 1861 he was doing sufficiently well to employ 7 men at the brewery and 4 indoor servants.
Annie Mannock also came from a prosperous background as in 1851 her father James Mannock (1808-1871) had a cotton mill employing 50 hands. Something must have gone wrong as no probate record has been found for him, so he, presumably, died poor.
William John Hammond retired in his 50s in the 1880s and moved to become a country gentleman at Branwood End, Kings Heath, Worcestershire. When he died in 1903 he left over £15,000, worth around £1.6 million at 2016 values.
Louis and Constance had a family of just 4 sons (one of whom died as an infant), Leonard Frank (1888-1950), Henry Clive (1890-1918), Raymond Fritz (1894-1895) and Claude Eugene (1896- 1918). The family moved around quite a lot within the Merseyside area. Leonard Frank was born in Freshfield and baptised at St Peter, Formby; Henry Clive was born in Hoscote Park, West Kirby; and by the birth of Raymond Fritz they were at 15 Grove Park, Toxteth, Liverpool; The family eventually settled at 1a Brompton Avenue, Sefton Park. They moved to The Promenade, West Kirby sometime between 1913 and 1917, probably during the war. After Louis’ death the rest of the family moved to 12 Townfield Road, West Kirby.
So the local community may have been aware of the Rooke family, but they were probably not very well known locally.
HENRY CLIVE ROOKE
Henry was born on 15 Jun 1890 in West Kirby, most likely in Hoscote Park where the family was living at the 1891 census.
He was baptised at St Bridget on 21 August 1890.
At the time of the 1891 census the family was living at 14 Ivanhoe Road, Sefton Park, Liverpool. It is not known where Henry was educated. In 1911 he was living at home and working as a rubber salesman.
It is not known when Henry enlisted, but it was probably at the same time as his brother Leonard as they were both commissioned as Lieutenants on probation in the 3rd Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers on 27 Jan 1915.
London Gazette 26 Jan 1915
The 3rd Battalion, KOSB was a training battalion that never served overseas. Whenever Leonard and Henry served overseas they must have been attached to another unit, so we know nothing in detail of their service. The 3rd Battalion was also a Regular Army Battalion, so they joined the Regular Army on different terms to those of the ‘New Army’ or the Territorial Forces. It would have been a somewhat longer term commitment.
Henry’s officer qualities must have been less impressive to his superiors than those of his brother Leonard. Leonard went to France on 1 Jun 1915 (with an unknown unit) and was confirmed as a 2nd Lieutenant on 13 Jul 1915, being promoted to full Lieutenant on 17 Aug 1915, whereas Henry was still on probation when he landed in Gallipoli in October 1915, and was not confirmed as a 2nd Lieutenant until 18 Jan 1916. He served in Gallipoli whilst attached to the 4th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. However he was too late for the actual fighting by the Worcestershires, for after fighting on 8th August they were reduced to no more than 4 officers. Doubtless Henry was attached to them to enable the remnants to be reconstituted as a battalion, before they were moved to France.
Henry had a short unexpected home leave in January 1918, missing seeing his brother Claude by just 4 minutes at a station in Liverpool.
The next time we know for certain where Henry was was when he died. At that stage he was attached to the 1st Battalion, KOSB. This battalion was part of the 87th Brigade, 29th Division.
In 1918 the German Army launched their Spring Offensive in an attempt to capture Ypres and drive the British back to the channel ports. Part of this offensive is known as the Battle of the Lys. This had several phases. On 7 April 1918 the Germans started bombardment of the Allied lines all along the Flanders front, and on 9th April started the Battle of Estaires by attacking the Portugese 2nd Division and the British 40th Division near Estaires. Both divisions crumbled and for 3 days the Germans gained much ground. On 11 April General Haig issued his famous ‘Order of the Day’ known as the ‘Backs to the Wall Order’.
The Germans were eventually stopped near Estaires by the British Reserve Divisions, of which the 1st Battalion, KOSB formed part. Henry died during the fighting. His body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial in Hainaut, Belgium.
Henry left nearly £2,000 (worth over £125,000 at 2016 values). He was aged 27. He is also commemorated on Grange Hill War Memorial and St Bridget and St Andrew churches’ Rolls of Honour, all at West Kirby. He is also commemorated on the Liverpool War Memorial in the Town Hall.
Birth: 15 Jun 1890 at West Kirby
Death: 11 April 1918 killed in action during the Battle of Estaires, on Belgium / France border
Addresses: Hoscote Park, West Kirby (91); 14 Ivanhoe Road, Sefton Park, Liverpool (01); 1a Brompton Avenue, Sefton Park, Liverpool (11); ‘Garwick’, 6 The Promenade, West Kirby (17); 12 Townfield Road, West Kirby (18)
Occupation: rubber salesman
Units: 3rd Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers; attached 4th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment; attached 1st Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Medals: 15 Star, Victory & British War
Commemorated: Ploegsteert Memorial; Grange Hill War Memorial, West Kirby; St Bridget & St Andrew churches, West Kirby; Liverpool War Memorial
Sources: CWGC, MC, DA, Census: 91, 01, 11, BR, PR, Probate, Liverpool War Memorial
CLAUDE EUGENE ROOKE
FE2b (Farman Experimental 2 – model b)
Claude was born in the autumn of 1896 in Sefton Park. There is no surviving evidence of him being baptised, unlike his brothers. In 1911 he was still at school, though it is not known what school he attended.
On 30 October 1913 he enlisted as a Trooper in King Edward’s Horse so he must have been able to ride a horse.
King Edward’s Horse cap badge
This was a Territorial unit where the Troopers were generally gentleman. Another local man who had been a member was Edward Hext Kendall. At the time Claude was a cotton clerk and was 5ft 7 in tall with blue eyes and light brown hair.
On 13 August 1914 Claude was discharged from King Edward’s Horse. This was presumably so that he could apply to become an officer elsewhere. He at some stage joined the 3rd Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers just like his brothers. However his commission entry in the London Gazette has not been found. It is known he landed in Egypt on 6 December 1915. He must, like his brothers, have been attached to some other unit.
On 27 October 1916 he was commissioned as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant attached. Clearly he had been commissioned at some earlier date.
London Gazette 27 October 1916
We know he was given leave to attend his father’s funeral at Toxteth Park cemetery, Liverpool on 30 July 1917. He also had a short home leave during the first fortnight of January 1918. By this date he was attached to the Royal Flying Corp and was in training at Newmarket, Cambridgeshire.
Unfortunately he is proof of just how dangerous flying at that period as his FE2b (Farman Experimental 2 model b) bi-plane crashed on 21 January 1918, killing both Claude and a Canadian officer who was training him how to fly. Another local man who died in similar circumstances (though in his case as instructor) was Lionel Richard Thacker King.
Claude is buried alongside his father in Toxteth Park Cemetery.
Toxteth Park Cemetery, Liverpool
He was aged 21. He is commemorated on Grange Hill War Memorial and St Bridget and St Andrew churches’ Rolls of Honour, all at West Kirby. He is also commemorated on the Liverpool War Memorial in the Town Hall.
Birth: Oct 1896 in Sefton Park, Liverpool
Death: 21 January 1918 killed in a plane crash at Newmarket, Cambridgeshire
Addresses: 14 Ivanhoe Road, Sefton Park, Liverpool (01); 1a Brompton Avenue, Sefton Park, Liverpool (11); ‘Garwick’, 6 The Promenade, West Kirby (17); 12 Townfield Road, West Kirby (18)
Occupation: cotton clerk
Units: King Edward’s Horse; 3rd Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers; attached Royal Flying Corps
Ranks and Number: Trooper, 305; 2nd Lieutenant
Medals: 15 Star, Victory & British War
Buried & Commemorated: Toxteth Park cemetery, Liverpool; Grange Hill War Memorial, West Kirby; St Bridget & St Andrew churches, West Kirby; Liverpool War Memorial
Sources: CWGC, MC, SR, DA, Census: 01, 11, BR, Liverpool War Memorial
Leonard Rooke was very seriously injured in a flying accident in the autumn of 1916. This was so serious that he was still convalescing at a Hydro in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire in January 1918 when Claude was killed. On 6 July 1919 he was put on the Army ‘Retired List’ due to the extent of his injuries. No evidence has been found that he ever served in the army again or that he received any further promotions but later in life he called himself a Captain and, during WW2 a Major. He did duty as an ARP Warden during WW2. He did marry, and his son, Peter Bruce de Stafford Rooke (1930-1991) became a Major in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and had distinguished service in Korea and Malaysia amongst other places.
So in the space of 18 months Constance Hammond Rooke lost her husband and 2 of her 3 sons who survived infancy, and her eldest son was seriously incapacitated.