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Sold on 6 July 2004

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Medals From The Collection of Hal Giblin

Hal Giblin

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№ 417


6 July 2004

Hammer Price:

A well-documented Great War ‘Palestine’ M.M. group of four awarded to Lance-Corporal (late Drummer) J. Brockie, Cheshire Regiment, who was killed in action near Grand Rozoy-Soissons in July 1918

Military Medal, G.V.R. (200384 Pte. - L. Cpl. J. Brockie, 1/4 Ches. R. - T.F.); 1914-15 Star (1927 Dmr., Ches. R.); British War and Victory Medals (1927 Pte., Ches. R.), together with related Memorial Plaque (John Brockie), extremely fine, the whole contained within an old wooden display frame, with portrait photograph, etc. (5) £600-800

This lot was sold as part of a special collection, Medals From The Collection of Hal Giblin.

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M.M. London Gazette 10 April 1918.

John Brockie was born in the parish of St. Anne’s Birkenhead, Cheshire in October 1887, the only son of John Brockie, a cotton broker, and his wife Lucy, who came from Brunswick, Maine, U.S.A. Young John was educated at Liscard High School and eventually settled locally as a designer, decorator and art metal worker. He did, however, in the interim, between 1911-12, travel to Canada, but returned home on learning of his father’s illness and death.

Brockie enlisted in the 1/4th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment at Birkenhead in August 1914 and sailed for the Middle East in July 1915. Active service in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine followed, and he was awarded his M.M. for rescuing wounded comrades under fire in the latter theatre of war. Brockie alludes to this action in a letter home to his mother:

‘ ... I got a good Xmas box last night as I was informed by the Adjutant that I have been awarded the Military Medal, so I have something to be proud of now. Of course, we will only get the ribbons to wear at present ... Private Joyce, who is a grocer’s assistant in civil life, and myself, went back to bring in a wounded man after we had been driven-off a ridge by the Turks and that is what we have got the medals for ...’

Then in June 1918, the Battalion was ordered to the Western Front, and one month later, on 30 July 1918, Brockie was killed by enemy shellfire near Grand Rozoy-Soissons. Poignantly, he had written to his mother just three days earlier:

‘ ... I hope that we will get the drums together again soon and that they will keep us together then as I don’t like this fighting business. We are practically out of range here but the noise of the guns is very unpleasant. We have got a checquer board for a divisional badge now and as we are all ways moving it is very appropriate ... the rheumatics are bothering me a bit in my legs and shoulders but it is only to be expected. Now I must finish this up as I have to clean my ammunition now ...’

On 27 August, his mother wrote to the Battalion’s Chaplain to see if he could ascertain more precise details regarding her son’s demise:

‘ ... It is a terrible grief to me and I had been so looking forward to having him home on leave, after the three years he had been with his Batt. abroad, and the hardship he had borne, and he was certainly entitled to his leave home instead of being sent straight into the Field from Palestine. His loss is very great to me for I am a widow. Trusting you may be able to get some information about him for me.’

The following reply was penned in the Field on 3 September 1918:

‘Dear Madam,

I duly received your letter of Aug. 27th and am pleased to be of assistance to you by giving information concerning your son, L./Cpl. J. Brockie, M.M.

He was killed near Grand-Rozoy-Soissons and is buried with other comrades in the wood. Along with another member of our band. He was seeking shelter in a shell-hole whilst the Germans were bombarding the locality. A shell pitched behind them and the concussion of the shell caused instantaneous death. His comrade was also killed. I am glad he did not suffer even for a minute. When making inquiries other men of our band spoke of him as the best known man in the Batt. He was always cheerful and most obliging to all being always ready to perform any kindness. He was consequently held in high regard both by officers and men and is greatly missed.

The Bandmaster has his flute and watch which will be sent to you by a Sergt. who expects to go home on leave very shortly.

We all greatly sympathise with you in your bereavement and I trust the Unseen and Unfailing hand may comfort you and sustain you.

Yours in sympathy,

Rev. A. Mead, C.F.’

John Brockie has no known grave and is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial; and on his parents gravestone in Flaybrick Hill Cemetery, Birkenhead.

Sold with an impressive quantity of original documentation, including the above described letters between Mrs. Brockie and the 1/4th Battalion’s Chaplain, and wartime letters from the recipent to his mother describing his M.M. action and his last letter home, dated 27 July 1918, shortly before his death; together with two earlier letters to his parents from Canada 1911-12; H.Q. London District forwarding letter for the M.M., dated 18 March 1919 and similar Record Office letter for his 1914-15 Star; two or three photographs of the 1/4th Cheshires’ band members, one in postcard format with brief note from the recipient on the eve of his embarkation for the Middle East in 1915 and a portrait photograph in uniform in hammered-bronze frame with Cheshire’s badge.