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Lieutenant Colonel T C P Brooke
Late Irish Guards
by Brigadier Christopher Wolverson OBE DL
formerly Irish Guards

Tom Brooke was born on 16th July 1938 and died on 14th May 2020.

He attended West Downs Preparatory School from 1947 to 1951. Here he remembered attending chapel, singing in the choir, and gardening, commitments which stayed with him all his life. From there to Eton, where he fenced well and was in the Shooting VIII. His son James followed him there in due course. He was commissioned in the Irish Guards in 1958.

Tom quickly made his mark in the Battalion on public duties and in Germany as well as with No 5 Company at the Guards Depot. He was smart and self-confident. He was professionally competent and happy to be considered so in an age when many of his contemporaries still preferred to be seen as amateurs. He also gained a reputation for standing up for those under his command. It was not for nothing that he earned the sobriquet ‘Boy General’.

He soon volunteered for the Guards Parachute Company. He was a troop commander from 1963 to 1965, welding his troop into an extremely well trained and fit unit. He served on emergency tours in Cyprus, and in Borneo where during the confrontation he patrolled in the SAS role for up to 3 months at a time along, and sometimes over, the border.

Tom was then appointed to a staff job in Headquarters 16 Parachute Brigade. During his time here, he very nearly lost his life. During a parachute jump, he was knocked out on leaving the aircraft. His main parachute failed, and being unconscious, he could not use his reserve. He hurtled towards earth but got entangled with the lift webs of the Brigade Major, who with great presence of mind held onto Tom until they landed. It was a miracle that he survived with only relatively minor injuries.

He re-joined the Battalion for their tour in Aden, where he commanded No 3 Company. He attended the Staff College and in fact he and his first wife Eve shared a cottage in Fairford with me whilst he was doing his 3 months at Shrivenham. He was then posted to Headquarters Northern Ireland as GSO3 Intelligence and Security. There is a story told by a fellow officer, I am assured not apocryphal, that on a flight back from Belfast, he saw a familiar clerically garbed figure in front of him in the queue. Ever courteous, Tom greeted him with a ‘Good afternoon Father’. There was a mighty explosion as Ian Paisley put him right!

He returned to the Battalion to serve as Second in Command. He enjoyed sailing on Gladeye. In 1976, he was appointed Regimental Adjutant. In 1978, he volunteered for loan service in Oman for 2 years. He was the Training Major of the Sultan’s Armed Forces. He advised on The Queen’s visit to Oman in 1979. His services were recognised by two Omani medals.

After a tour at the Royal School of Artillery Larkhill, he was selected to command the 4th (Volunteer) Battalion The Royal Irish Rangers (North Irish Militia). Tom’s formidable reputation of boundless energy, demanding the highest military standards and fitness preceded him. It was with some trepidation that his Adjutant awaited his arrival. He was not to be disappointed. Immediately the Adjutant was ordered to move his desk in with the Commanding Officer. Despite initial protests, the Adjutant did comply and came to appreciate the logic and advantages behind this Foot Guards tradition.

His Battalion soon responded to his enthusiasm and leadership in their role as an effective part of UK’s NATO reinforcement plan. As his Adjutant writes, ‘ We all loved and respected Tom Brooke. He shared a common love of our soldiery. He was a great Commanding Officer and made a most positive impact on our Battalion. There was never a dull moment around TCP’. He completed his military service with a couple of staff appointments in the Ministry of Defence and left the Army in 1993.

On retirement he became Personnel Manager of Waterers Landscapes at Sunningdale. He was lucky to get the job as his letter of application was chewed to pieces by the dog of his future employer, but fortunately it was pieced together and Tom was appointed. At 60 he retired from Waterers and subsequently moved to Norfolk with his second wife Susie, whom he had  married in 1988,  to a delightful cottage, where his interests in birds and gardening flourished. He enjoyed his inherited step family. He loved his roses, cared for his collection of antique clocks, and grew his leeks, in very straight lines. He was a regular attender at the village church, where he maintained his reputation as an enthusiastic singer, noted by many of his contemporaries over 50 years previously at the Garrison Church in Hubbelrath!

As a brother officer wrote to me: ‘Tom was a good soldier and an unswervingly loyal Irish Guardsman’. What finer epitaph could he have? Quis Separabit

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