Crooks Family

“He always had a smile and laugh for there was sunshine in his heart.” Crooks died at age twenty-six at the Somme.

Three days into service in France, Pvt. Bertram Crooks, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, sent a postcard to his father back home. “I am beginning to find out what soldiering is like,” wrote Crooks on May 31, 1916. “We work eight hours a day and we feel pretty tired when we get through at night, but still I am feeling fine and that is the main thing.”

Crooks left home aboard the S.S. Adriatic, he was a soldier in the 64th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. As Canadian casualties mounted, he was reassigned to the 25th Nova Scotia Battalion in June of 1916 — the transfer relocated him to the frontlines.

His second last letter home was to his Aunt Janie, Aug 31, 1916. He thanked her for a box she had sent. Crooks wrote the letter hurriedly from a barn in rural France, his unit had stopped marching for the night and light was fading. “I always like to get something from old Nova Scotia,” the letter read. Twelve days later, Crooks would be killed at the Somme, just outside the town of Albert.

Back home, the Halifax Chronicle wrote Crooks’ obituary, he had been one of their employees before the war. “Bert Crooks joined the Chronicle mechanical staff at an early age,” the article read. “He always had a smile and laugh for there was sunshine in his heart.” Crooks was twenty-six.

He had two brothers, James and John, both of which served overseas and survived the war. James survived a gas attack at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, but his injuries were too severe to continue service and he was sent home. Bertram’s brother John served in England but was never deployed across the channel.

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