Family History

We are lucky enough to have photos of Samuel Job. His Attestation Paper for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force in September 1914 gives us a physical description as well: height 5 ft 3 ins, chest girth when fully extended 37 ins with a 3 inch range of expansion; complexion fair; eyes blue; hair light brown. He had an SJB tattoo on his right forearm and a wart in the centre of his back


Samuel Job Brooks was born 16 December 1876 to Ann (Fisher) and Samuel Brooks. This is the date of birth he gave on his Attestation Paper for the Canadian over-Seas Expeditionary Force but his birth was registered in the West Ham in June quarter of 1874. When conscription was eventually introduced in Canada later on in the war the upper age limit was 34, but there doesn’t seem to have been one for non-conscripts. Perhaps Job thought 40 might have been looked on as a wee bit too old. His middle name was after his paternal grandfather and I understand this was the name he went by, and which I will use from now on. He had an older brother James born 1869, sister Jane Maria born 1871 and younger brother Henry born 1878. When Henry was born the family was living at the Castle Buildings in Stratford West, East London. In 1871 his father is described as a bricklayer but on later census returns a general labourer. On the 1881 census the family were at 5 Paul Street, Stratford. Samuel’s younger brother John, his wife and their two daughters were living in the same house. The area in which the family lived was a typical working class terraced housing district close to the Eastern Counties Railway Works Yard.

The following year Job’s mother Ann died and this drastically changed the course of Job and Henry’s life. This is what John Cooper has written in his fascinating account of his grandfather Henry Brooks’s life "Job had arrived in Canada in June 1890, after travelling aboard the ‘S.S. Lake Ontario’. His mother’s death in 1882 affected him greatly it seems, because he did not attend school for one year afterward and, as a result, was sent to the Essex Industrial School on July 25, 1883, where he remained for seven years. According to the school records Samuel Job – or Sam, as he was known there – was a small lad for his nine years, weighing 63 lbs standing 3ft 10in tall, with blue eyes and light brown hair. Owing to non-attendance at school he could hardly read or write and he had no idea about arithmetic although his mental capacity was described as ‘fair’ ".

Job’s father had meanwhile ‘remarried’ (although we have been unable to trace the actual marriage) and in March 1891 was living at 1 Sydney Cottages, Holloway Rd, Leyton with Sarah Jane and her three daughters. I understand the marriage dissolved, whether legally I don’t know, before Samuel died in 1898. Was the step-mother responsible for Job’s brother Henry being sent to Dr. Barnardo’s Homes for Boys at Barkingside, Essex in 1890? From there he sailed to Canada in March 1892 on the the S.S. Carthagenia . The brothers were able to establish and maintain contact with each other , later they probably prospected together and Job gave Henry as his next of kin. Job also kept in touch with, or was kept informed of, family back in England. When he was in England prior to being sent to the Western Front he certainly visited his brother James and his aunt Mary Ann Rothenburg (Samuel’s sister) and cousin Edward Rothenburg.

New life in Canada

Upon arriving in Canada, Job settled at London, Ontario, where he attended the Royal School of Infantry, September 15 to December 1891. This school was formed on 21/12/1883 and with the Cavalry School Corps formed the Royal Canadian Regiment. There he obtained a 1st Class Bugler’s Certificate and First Aid Training. Bugling has always played a large part in the Regiment’s life. Afterwards, he joined the 14th Dominion Field Battery for two years which had it’s home at Port Hope, located on the north shore of Lake Ontario. This Battery originated in 1872 under Captain Charles Seymour. Its guns were originally of the smooth-bore type and were six in number, with six horses to each gun, however in 1880 four rifle guns had superseded the old smooth-bores. " In its drills and target practices the Battery has always maintained a high standard of efficiency. In 1894 it won the first general proficiency prize over all the Dominion artillery companies and it also possesses the Gwoszki Challenge Cup, having won it for two years in succession (1890-1891.)" (Concerning Things Military, first published Good Hope, 1901)

When Canada decided to send a volunteer army to South Africa to fight against the Boer rebellion, Job enlisted as a private with the 3rd Dragoons at Peterborough in April, 1902. Interestingly, he indicated that his trade was mining and that his next of kin, Henry, was living at Victoria Mines, Algoma. In his Attestation papers, Job was listed as a ‘fair’ shot and ‘fair’ rider’.

It is possible that Job had been working with Henry prior to enlisting again. When Henry arrived in Canada he worked as a farm hand near Huntsville, Northern Ontario until he had paid for his passage and might then have got a job in the town’s tannery or one of the planning mills. However Northern Ontario was beginning to open up at the turn of the century with the discovery of nickel ore at Victoria Mines by the Mond Nickel Co., and the extension of the Timiskaming and Northern Railway to Cobalt and New Liskeard. In 1902, Henry was living at Victoria Mines just east of Sudbury possibly prospecting for silver which was abundant in the area. This was the period of mining development in Northern Ontario, and to quote John Cooper again "thousands of men – and some women – journeyed via lake steamer, rail or canoe to the endless forests in search of ores which lay within the Canadian Shield. Many of these people became prospectors but most worked for the mining companies. Whichever, the work and the climate were harsh. Those who persevered were able to eke out a living or perhaps strike a lucky claim which changed their life style from that of a pauper to a baron." Unfortunately neither Job nor Henry had that lucky strike.

Boer War

The 3rd Dragoons sailed from Halifax on SS. Cestrian, 8th May, 1902; arrived at Cape Town on 31st, which was the day the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed, which ended the war. The 4th Dragoons returned on the Cestrian it was later recorded ‘I consider the accommodation on the 'SS. Cestrian' very bad indeed. The steamer was in a most filthy condition when we embarked, there being on the decks at least 1/4 inch of grease and filth. The food given both officers and men was of only fair quality and not properly cooked. The flour used to bake bread was musty, and consequently the bread was the same." (Comments from Lt-Col T.L. Boulanger, Sessional Papers 35A 1903, Parliament of Canada). Did Job have it any better? Whilst in the Dragoons Job described his role (on 1914 Attestation Paper) as a bugler. Within two months he boarded the S.S. Caspian at Durban (July 1, 1902) for the voyage, during which he was confined to quarters for seven days (15-23 July) for intoxication after the men consumed a large quantity of beer.

Job must have worked fairly closely with Henry again in the next decade because they were both living in Cobalt in 1909 when Job applied for his land concession. Under the Volunteer Bounty Act of 1908, veterans of the South African War were entitled to 320 acres of Dominion Land. Most veterans opted to receive scrip in the amount of $60 rather than a land grant, or sold their land grant entitlement to a "substitute". Henry at the time was in partnership with, and living with, fellow prospector George Cooper. Although Job gave his occupation in 1914 as a prospector I wonder if he was a true prospector like Henry, used to working hard outdoors, living in a tent and often off the land even in the coldest months of the year. Neither do we know whether Job attended Henry’s wedding to Mildred Breul in Markham in 1911. Henry and Mildred settled for the next few years in New Liskard and Job gave Henry Brooks of New Liskeard as his next of kin. John Cooper’s account of |Henry’s life contains many fascinating stories of Henry’s adventures as a prospector but Job doesn’t feature in any of them.

World War I

When Canada declared war in 1914, thousands of volunteers joined the regular army of only 3,110. Job enlisted immediately as a private with the 97th regiment of the Algonquin Rifles on August 13 at New Liskeard. By September, his regiment was transferred to the 48th Highlanders 15th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. On 7 September he was passed as fit and his Attestation passed as correct on 20 September, and he took his oath to George V on 22 September. I let John Cooper tell the rest of Job’s story.

‘More than 32,000 men gathered at Valcartier Camp near Quebec. In October, the First Contingent, CEF, was sailing to England in the largest convoy ever to cross the Atlantic.

The stop-over in England provided Job with an opportunity to re-contact members of the Brooks family and have photographs taken with them which he returned to Canada. This was probably the most enjoyable aspect of his stay in England because the troops had to endure a long, miserable winter training in the mud and drizzle of the Salisbury Plain.

Everyone thought that nothing could be worse than Salisbury. But upon arrival in France after brief training, they were introduced quickly to trench warfare. In the Armentieres sector of the line, they were faced with the realities of dirt, disease and death. The Canadians were moved from their quiet sector to a bulge in the Allied line at Ypres. It was near here in the village of St. Julien that Job met his death in part of the second Battle of Ypres.

The German forces had bombarded the Allied forces for three days. Hoping to break the stalemate, the Germans introduced chlorine gas for the first time in a war. The Canadians held on through terrible fighting, withered with shrapnel and machine-gun fire, hampered by rifles which jammed and the lung-searing, yellow-green clouds of death – but the cost was high. In forty-eight hours, 6,035 Canadians were lost. Job Brooks was one of the casualties. "

He was killed in action on the Zonnebeke Road near St. Julien (Ypres), Belgium on 25 April 1915. . He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial Panel 18 -24- 26- 30

Posthumously, he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

However we haven’t heard the last of Job. One of Edward Rothenburg’s daughters has told her niece that when she was a girl between the wars her parents had a kilt and sporran in a cupboard. She and her siblings were told not to touch it, but as children would do they would get the sporran out and play with it when their parents were away. Until recently she didn’t know who it had belonged to – of course it was Job’s. Unfortunately it was lost when the front of the house was destroyed by German bombing in the 2nd World War,