Remembering the gallantry of Captain James A.O. Brooke VC

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The bravery and sacrifice of a young officer’s life in service to his country during World War One will be remembered this Saturday.

On October 25, almost 100 years to the day that Captain James Brooke VC, from near Cults, was killed on the fields of Flanders, a special concert will take place in Aberdeen to commemorate him.

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This will follow the dedication of a stone laid in Captain Brooke’s memory which has been donated by Aberdeen City Council on behalf of the UK Government

Taking place at Kingswell Hall, the concert and ceremony will feature civic dignitaries and guests including The Lord Provost of Aberdeen, George Adam, andMajor Malcolm Ross, a descendent of Captain Brooke.

Those performing at the concert will include composer and pianist Stuart Mitchell from Edinburgh, also the Cluny Church children’s choir, the AOTC Drums and Pipes, Fiona Kelly from Aboyne who appeared on the TV programme the Voice, Alex Buchan a member of Aberdeen Operatic Society, and Nicola Cassells from Ayr who recently recorded her first Album.

The event will raise funds for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, the national charity of the British Army, founded in 1944.

James Brooke was killed on October 29, 1914 .

The gallant young captain led two attacks on the enemy under concentrated rifle and machine-gun fire, to regain a lost trench.

The action took place near Gheluvelt where the 2nd Battalion was trying to prevent a German breakthrough.

They were not in a position to counter-attack so Brooke saved the situation with his promptness and cool head.

Having regained the trench he went back to fetch support; it was at this point he was shot.

In 200 years of proud Regimental history, 19 Gordon Highlanders were awarded the highest decoration for gallantry in the British armed forces: the Victoria Cross.

Famously cast from the bronze of Russian cannon captured in the Crimean War, the Victoria Cross is an enduring symbol of valour of the highest order.

At The Gordon Highlanders Museum, 11 of these 19 VCs are on permanent display.

Each one represents an extraordinary story of courage, often against near-impossible odds, on battlefields as far apart as Afghanistan and the Western Front.

Captain Brooke’s medal is one of these.

James Anson Otho Brooke was the son of Sir Harry Vasey Brooke KBE and Lady Patricia (ne Moir-Byres) of Fairley, Countesswells, Aberdeenshire, born in February 1884.

He was commissioned into the 2nd Battalion and fought at Gheluvelt as a lieutenant.

His promotion to captain was notified posthumously. His award was gazetted on February 18, 1915, and he was buried at Zantvoorde British Cemetery in Belgium.

Catherine Robertson-Ross MBE of Banchory, who does extensive charity work for the welfare of serving soldiers and veterans, said: “The centenary commemorations give us the opportunity to honour all those that made great sacrifices during the war.

‘‘We’re taking time to remember Captain Brooke as a Victoria Cross recipient: he went above and beyond the call of duty, for which he lost his life.

‘‘I would like to thank Aberdeen City Council for gifting the stone on behalf of the Government in memory of Captain Brook VC, Who died on October 29, 1914.”

A garden has also been built outside the Kingswells Hall where the stone will be laid.

Catherine added: “Jonny Leary, of Vista Landscapes, Banchory, very kindly donated his time to help build this garden, as well as Andy Harrold a young veteran, proprietor of Aberdeen Garden Services.

‘‘All the artists taking part also gifted their time, I would like to thank them also.”

Tickets are priced at £10 and can be bought by contacting Catherine Robertson-Ross on 07879854927