Born on 15 Sep 1870 and baptised on 23 Oct 1870 in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire son of Rev Arthur Conolly Brooking (Vicar of Bovingdon) and Marian Frances Georgiana (Ryder) Brooking. Educated at Lancing College 1884-88. He went to South Africa in 1890 and became manager of the Filibussi Gold Mine. Gazetted 2nd Lieutenant North Somerset Yeomanry on 9 Oct 1895 and Lieutenant on 8 Aug 1903, he served in South Africa, at Mafeking and at Ladysmith. He spent a period of time with the Colonial Office and the South African Police. He was promoted to Captain on 5 Nov 1904 and rejoined his Regiment in 1906 then resigned his commission and returned to Somerset in 1907. In 1911 he was said to be of private means and living in the Rose and Crown Inn, Nether Stowey, Somerset. He married Florence Eugenie Day in 1912 in Williton, Somerset and had two children. On the outbreak of WW1, he re-joined his old regiment as Captain on 8 Aug 1914 and entered France on 2 Nov 1914.