Corporal Jeremy Brookes, aged 28, of 4th Battalion The Rifles, died as a result of injuries sustained from a small arms fire attack on his patrol in Basra City.
He was commanding a Bulldog Armoured Vehicle involved in escorting a routine re-supply convoy in the Al Tuwaysa district of the city at approximately 1530 Local Time when the attack happened.
Despite his colleagues’ best efforts to provide first aid and evacuate him to Basra Palace, he sadly died from his injuries.
During this patrol a civilian fuel tanker involved in the convoy was also attacked, catching fire and killing the civilian driver.
4th Battalion The Rifles have recently taken over responsibility as the Basra City Battlegroup, based at Basra Palace, from 2nd Battalion The Rifles.
Corporal Jeremy Brookes
Corporal Brookes, known as ‘Jez’ to his friends, was born on 19 October 1978 in Birmingham where he grew up. He enlisted in the British Army in February 2001, serving with 2nd Battalion The Royal Green Jackets. In February 2007, The Royal Green Jackets merged with three other regiments, forming The Rifles, of which his battalion became the 4th Battalion.
Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Sanders, the Commanding Officer of 4th Battalion The Rifles said of him:
Corporal Brookes was an inspirational and much loved figure in the 4th Battalion The Rifles. An outstanding Rifleman, a charismatic and natural leader, a sportsman of exceptional talent and determination, and a warm, wickedly funny and generous man, he was in all respects larger than life and an example to us all. He was incapable of doing anything by half-measures and lived his life to the full, constantly seeking new challenges to overcome. I never saw him admit defeat in anything and his determination, vigour and sheer zest for life was a personal inspiration.
“Last year he returned from the Sahara Desert where he had just completed, in an exceptional time, the notoriously demanding Marathon Des Sables. Still hobbling on nearly raw feet, but looking lean, tanned and wiry, he came to see me and said ‘Right, done that! What’s next?’ He settled on a 300km Arctic Marathon as his next challenge intending to fit it in after our tour in Iraq. That was the kind of man he was and we are each of us better men for having known him.
His death as a result of enemy action in Basra City is a tragic loss to all of us Riflemen in 4th Battalion The Rifles and above all to his friends and family to whom we extend our deepest sorrow and sympathy; our thoughts and prayers are with them at this terrible time. He died leading his beloved Riflemen in battle, inspiring, cajoling and striving for ever better standards to the last. He led by personal example and was one of the finest Non Commissioned Officers I have ever had the privilege and pleasure to serve with. He died doing what he loved and in life and in the manner of his death he set us all the very highest example of service to others, courage, decency, self-sacrifice and utter commitment.
“We will miss him dearly and will try each day to live up to his legacy. But above all, and though we grieve, we celebrate his life and are so very proud to have served alongside him.”
Major James Bryant, the Officer Commanding of Cpl Brook’s Company, R Company, said of him.
Corporal Brookes, Jez, was one of the most professional soldiers and junior commanders I have had the real pleasure of serving with. He was uncompromisingly professional, loved his job and was the epitome of what a Section Commander should be. He was exceptionally thorough, volunteered for everything and commanded and led by example. Perhaps his hallmark was his extraordinarily high standards. Corporal Brookes had been looking forward to this tour for a long time; he saw it as the realisation of his training and service.
He had a very direct approach. He ticked and whinged to an impressive standard, but we all loved him - it was just him! He was a straight talker and unafraid to let you know what he thought. I suspect that much of it was because he expected others to be as professional as himself and because he hated to see his Riflemen mucked around.
“He was a quick, bright and ambitious Brum who harboured a wish to become an Apache helicopter pilot, though I think that he would have been perfectly happy commanding his section for ever - he was at his best when leading his Riflemen in tough conditions and he always seemed to just come out on top. He referred to section commanding as his time for ‘wearing his smoking jacket and chilling out’ but his work displayed that he was doing anything but.
He was a wildly keen DIYer and, if one were to believe him, one could have come to the conclusion that he had built his entire house from scratch! He loved his dogs and despite a rather clapped out Ford Mondeo professed a keen interest in cars! But running was his ‘thing’ and he achieved a lifetime ambition last year in running the Marathon des Sables in North Africa. As was typical of him, he completed this gruelling race with a grim determination and will to succeed.
Corporal Brookes was a genuine character, he was the right man for a tight spot and was right at the heart of what makes R Company tick. His loss is tragic and deeply felt, but he would have been exactly the man to rise up and continue the challenge had it been another rifleman. R Company will miss him sorely. SWIFT and BOLD.
Corporal Rizzer Smith, a colleague, said:
Since Iraq came up, Jez was my battle partner. We would cover each other and no matter what would do our tasks together. He was always for his blokes.
In this action, as ever, he thought of everyone else but himself first. He told me and the top cover sentries to get down into cover, covering us as we did so. His selfless commitment was legendary.
His friend Lance Corporal Steve Pallett said:
Even when he was being serious he used to laugh. He’d do anything for you. King Jez was never wrong. He was just a character - you’d never get another Brooksy.
The family of Cpl Brookes have issued the following statement:
Jeremy died doing his job of work, a job that he enjoyed. We are all very proud of him. The family are obviously still very upset and we would appreciate being left alone to grieve his loss.
Adam Ingram, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, said:
I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Corporal Brookes’ family, friends, and colleagues. Our Service personnel are doing an incredible job in Iraq and the loss of such a dedicated and professional soldier is particularly sad news - Corporal Brookes’ fine service to our country will not be forgotten.