Lieutenant-Colonel Graham Brooks, MC
Herbert Reginald Graham Brooks was born in 1895 in Orsett, Essex. He was educated at Clifton College, Bristol and served in the Great War as an Artillery officer. In 1918 he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry.
Cartoon depiction of Lt Col Brookes by ‘Strube’ one of the men of the Regiment, 1939-40
In 1915 Brooks married Grace Wilson at St Andrews, Westminster; the marriage ended in divorce in 1924. Between the wars Brooks worked in the legal profession and practiced as a Barrister. In 1927 Brooks married his 2nd wife Dorothy Summer in Fulham, London.
Brooks was injured at Dunkirk after inhalation of sea water, which resulted in his invalidity from the Army. In December 1940 was mentioned in dispatches and recommended for an award.
In his typical modesty, Brooks fails to refer to his Distinguished Service Order citation anywhere in the text of ‘Grand Party’:
DSO Citation– ‘During the period 20-22nd May on the Escaut, this experienced officer was ubiquitous in his energy in commanding an offensively active battery which gave a ready response to all calls made on it. On the evening of 28th May near MESSINES he manned an O.P. [outpost] during the final rearguard action of the 5th Division, and inflicted casualties on the enemy. His conduct throughout the operations in Flanders has won the admiration of all ranks in his battery.’
Lt-Colonel Graham Brooks, M.C. became the commanding officer of 366 Battery, and he wrote an illustrated book about his experiences with 140th Field Regiment in France and Flanders entitled ‘Grand Party‘. Brooks describes the men of the Regiment in admiring and affectionate terms and also writes some personal analysis of how in his view the German assault of 1940 had been so devastatingly successful.
The forward was written by John Gordon, in it he says about the Dunkirk battles: ‘from this little human story of what happened to one Regiment you will get a clear picture of what happened to the entire British Army’.
The book was written in 1941, it is now out of print but rare copies still circulate and are obtainable through antique bookshops.
Grand Party is a valuable record of day-to-day life in the Regiment, and in particular contains the only account of 366 Battery, which Brooks commanded after the separation of the Regiment on 23rd May 1940. It includes a description of their escape to Dunkirk and return to England.
‘Grand Party’- Inside Cover
Brooks died shortly after the end of the war on 27th October 1946 at the age of 51 years. At the time of his death he was living at 26 Abingdon Villas, Kensington, and left his left estate to his Clerk Sidney Taylor. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, London where his name is recorded on a Commonwealth War Grave Commission memorial plaque.