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Photos of George Brooks, soldier, Crimean War

Oval portrait photo, hand coloured, of soldier, red uniform, medal Photo of man in suit and waistcoat by Cassar of Valetta, Malta

Sally Douglas has provided some unusual, early photos:

'These are photos of George Brooks 1834 Isleworth, Middlesex. The one dressed in the uniform of the 56th Foot Brigade is of him and the other one is most likely him - from other experts in the family. George fought in the Crimean War and was awarded the Crimean Medal. The 56th Foot Brigade was part of the West Essex Regiment. Below are comments by Ian Hook of the Essex Regiment Museum.'

"Your most interesting photo can be dated to the year 1855-56. In the Crimea many soldiers died from cold and so after the war a number of changes were made to uniform and organisation. In the Crimea soldiers had worn coatees, that is coats with tails that were cut away at the front, like a Gent’s evening dress.

In 1855, tunics were introduced that had a skirt that protected the lower abdomen. For a year, 1855-56 these were double breasted, changing to a single breasted cut in 1856. Thus your man is obviously from his medal a Crimean veteran, a Corporal, and the date is a pretty certain one.

He is also wearing the Kilmarnock hat which was worn for day to day training and off duty purposes.

The colouring is pretty good, other than that the collar and cuffs appear blue whereas these should be a dark purple known as “Pompadour” which gives rise to the Regiment’s nickname. You man would have been proud to belong to “The Pompadours”.

Your photo is among the 4 earliest photos that I know for the Regiment..."

Ian Hook, Keeper of the Essex Regiment Museum, Essex Regiment Museum, Oaklands Park, Moulsham St, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 9AQ

Sally later noted the following references found on findmypast website which MAY refer to her George Brooks. However she suspects there may have been a second George Brooks in the 56th Foot (he was not at Crimea). In 1861 George Brooks was a Private of the 56th Foot (West Essex) - Service No 122. He was at Colaba Bombay (Barracks) East Indies (India) aged about 27. In 1871 George Brooks was a Private of the 56th (West Essex) Regiment of Foot - Service No 122 - at Poona, India. George was about 37. Perhaps in the late 1870's/1880's he was in Malta - that coincides with the studio pic of him above, taken on or after c1878.

George was a Corporal at some stage.

The Crimea Medal Roll shows George Brooks fought at Alma as well as Sevastopol.

Published August 2009; updated February 2015