ONE of Dursley’s most well-known residents looks back on the life of a family friend who fought in the First World War.

As part of the centenary of the conflict, former Dursley teacher Joan Kingham, who received an MBE for her efforts in the community, remembers neighbour and friend chief petty officer Frank Brooking.

Born in 1893, Mr Brooking would live in Highfields before and after serving in the First World War in the Royal Navy as a sick berth attendant and saw action in numerous campaigns including Jutland.

During the war he would sail to such places as South Africa, even returning with a pet parrot he had bought.

Holding a keen interest in amateur theatre, Mr Brooking had to decide on his return whether to continue his service in the navy or pursue a career as an actor.

Eventually he chose to remain with the armed forces until he retired on July 29, 1926, returning to Dursley to work as a dispenser at a doctor’s surgery in Uley.

Mr Brooking would move to Swansea in his remaining years and died in 1963, aged 70.

Miss Kingham, 95, said she used to call him “uncle Brook” when he and his family lived next door to her family and would go to school with his daughter.

“He was a very lovely man,” she said.

“People in Uley preferred to speak to him rather than the doctor in those days.

“He was always honest, had a good sense of integrity. He was quite well-known in Dursley.”

His grandson, Andrew Hinton from Swansea, contacted the Gazette to tell the story of his father after realising much information about those that lived in those times was being lost.

“The modern generation do not know much about their parents' and grandparents' history these days and we always have those thoughts that that we should have asked them questions about themselves but leave it too late,” he said.

His great uncle, Frank’s brother, Gilbert Brooking also served in the war, rising from the rank of private to second lieutenant as well as earning the military medal and the military cross for his heroics.

Living in Gloucester, it is believed Gilbert was the first man ever to climb Mount Snowdon on a motorbike in 1912.

He died only aged 57 in 1943.

“Gilbert had an interesting life. He was quite an active person for someone who died so young, while Frank was a man of habit, I think everyday was always a total duplication of the day before,” said Andrew.

“You had two brothers who were so different but they lad a common interest in motorbikes and amateur dramatics.”