George Brooks was born in Southport, Lancashire, England in 1885, the son of William and Margaret (Maggie) Brooks. The family home was at 17 Shaftsbury Road, Birkdale, Lancashire. George worked on a poultry farm before he decided to enlist in the Merchant Marine as a waiter on passenger vessels.
In March 1915 George Brooks married Louie Charlesworth Lloyd at St Andrew’s Church, Southport and moved to 17 King Street, Southport with his new bride.
He first served on the Lusitania in 1911 and on the morning of 17 April 1915 - the day the liner left the River Mersey for the last time ever - he engaged once more as a third class waiter in the Stewards' Department. His monthly rate of pay was £4-5s-0d, (£4.25) and he also had a duty as an inspector in the linen department.
Having crossed the Atlantic without mishap, the great liner docked in New York on 24 April and exactly one week later, on the early afternoon of 1 May, she set off on what was to be her last ever voyage, for six days later, on the afternoon of 7 May, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20, off The Old Head of Kinsale in southern Ireland - only hours away from the safety of her home port.
George Brooks was unlucky enough to be one of the many crew members and passengers who lost their lives as a result of this action. He was aged 29 years.
In 'The Lancashire Daily Post' for Tuesday 11 May 1915, there was a half-paragraph concerning Waiter Brooks, which stated:
"A steward named Clarke of Kew-road, Birkdale has been saved and says that when he last saw Brooks, he had a lifebelt on."
The "steward named Clarke" was Second Class Waiter James Clarke. Obviously wearing a lifebelt did not help to save George Brooks, unless he had given it away to someone else before the vessel foundered.
Some contemporary newspaper accounts mention that George Brooks was "an inspector of the second and third class stewards", but this would seem to be a misinterpretation of his linen inspector‘s job.
His body was not recovered and identified afterwards and consequently, he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine War Memorial to the Missing at Tower Hill, London. He is also commemorated on one of five brass plaques in the Parish Church of St John’s Birkdale, not far from where he lived. The inscription records, however, that he was lost on
HMS Lusitania! Despite the fact that he lived in the district area of Southport, his name is not inscribed on the large municipal memorial situated there.
In August 1915 his widow Louie was paid the balance of wages owed to him, in respect of his service on the
Lusitania’s last voyage, which was reckoned to be from 17 April 1915, until 8 May, 24 hours after the vessel had gone down.
The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted a yearly pension to Louie Brooks to compensate her for the loss of her husband which amounted to £23-2s-6d (£23.12½) which was payable at the rate of £1-18s-7d (£1.93) per month.
Cunard records show his surname to be spelled Brooke, and this is almost certainly because his signature in the 'Particulars of Engagement'
ledger, which he signed on the morning of 17 April looks as if it ends with an ‘e’. Cunard took all details of missing and lost men from this ledger. English Census and Commonwealth War Graves Commission records, which are usually the more reliable source, spell his name Brooks, however, as do newspaper reports of the time and his church plaque.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, George Donnison, Lancashire Daily Post, Southport’s Splendid Hearts, Southport Visitor, Yorkshire Post, PRO BT 334, UniLiv. PR 13/24.