On this day in 1945, Henry Brookfield (1914-1945) was killed in Italy – in the Battle of Argenta Gap – in the Second World War.
Henry, a sergeant in the Queen’s Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards) of the Royal Armoured Corps, was 31.
The Battle of Argenta Gap took place in northern Italy between April 12 and 19. Part of the Allied spring offensive, it was fought between British troops and units of the German Panzer Corps.
Henry was awarded the Military Medal in August 1943 after clearing – under heavy shell fire – more than 80 land mines hidden in a cornfield in Tunisia when his tank was blown up.
As shells continued to explode around him, he ran to another disabled tank, removed parts from it to get his back into action – and then cleared his way forward to re-join his squadron.
His courage and ‘coolness and devotion to duty’ were praised at the highest levels.
Henry’s death on April 17, 1945 was reported in The Liverpool Echo on May 1, 1945.
An announcement from his ‘broken-hearted mum and dad’ said he ‘died that we might live’.
He was buried at the Argenta Gap War Cemetery in Italy.
Henry, the only son of John and Rose Brookfield, was born in 1914 in Toxteth Park, Lancashire. He married Polly Phyllis Tucker (1921-2001) on July 18, 1941 in Honiton. Polly was the daughter of Samuel Tucker (1880-1946) and Laura Ellen Shepherd (1891-1980). Samuel was the brother of Dinah Tucker (1874-1958) who married John Roberts (1875-1951) in 1897. John was the son of James Roberts (1832-1898) and Mary Ann Alford (1836-1907). James was a brother of John Roberts (1829-1919), my great-great grandfather, who had 30 grandsons serving in the Great War.
Polly, born on June 12, 1921 in Cwmtillery, Monmouthshire, married Douglas Reginald Stephens (1920-1991) in Bedwelty, Monmouthshire in 1946. She died on October 17, 2001 in Newport, aged 80. Douglas served in the Royal Marines in the Second World War.
Argenta Gap War Cemetery, where Henry was buried. Picture taken on July 16, 2022 by RanZag (CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons). https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Argenta_Gap_War_Cemetery,_16_July_2022,_02.jpg