Brooke, Basil Julian David
Basil Julian David Brooke (F, 1933-1938) was born on 18th April 1920, the eldest son of Captain the Rt Hon Sir Basil Brooke, P.C., C.B.E., M.C., M.P. (D, 1901-1905) who, in 1943, became Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, holding office until 1963. His mother, Lady Brooke, was born Cynthia Mary Sergison, daughter of Captain Charles Warden Sergison DL, of Cuckfield Park. His brother was Henry Alan Brooke (F1937-1939), who was killed in action near Ravenna on April 17th 1945 (see individual entry). Their grand-uncle was Lord Alanbrooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff.
He was a good marksman and shot for the school in 1937 at Bisley, and in the Country Life Cup in 1937-1938. He was also a Lance Sergeant in the O.T.C. Interested in history and politics, he won the Vere Herbert Smith Prize in 1937, and became a House Prefect that year.
Leaving in March 1938 he went abroad and then on to Pembroke College, Cambridge where he became increasingly involved in politics. In 1940, before joining the Army, Brooke spent some time with the York Street Flax Spinning Company in Belfast.
In August 1941 he was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards. A fellow Wykehamist, Lieutenant-General Sir A. James Wilson KBE, MC, DL, MA (G1934-1939), recalled this period in his memoir “Unusual Undertakings” (Pen & Sword, 2002): “Often I lunched in Donegall Square with Julian Brooke, an old friend from Winchester and also waiting to be called up into the Army. Julian was the eldest son of Sir Basil Brooke, later Lord Brookeborough, then Home Minister in the Stormont Government and for many years Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. It was a tragedy for Ulster that Julian, who possessed charm, a sense of humour and political understanding, should have been killed in 1943 while serving in North Africa with the Grenadier Guards. Had he survived, he would have played a key role in the history of Northern Ireland……. Julian and I enlisted in the ‘B’ Specials, a branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which executed the duties in England assigned to the Home Guard. I found myself with a stripe by virtue of the weapon training learnt under Jack Parr at Winchester, and became responsible for the defence of Shaws Bridge below the Malone Golf Club, and on a subsidiary route from Lisburn to Belfast.”
In August 1941 Brooke was commissioned to 6th Battalion, Grenadier Guards, and served in Syria and North Africa. He died, aged twenty-two, at Mareth in Tunisia in March 1943, just before his battalion made a frontal attack on the enemy, the battalion’s first time in action. His jeep ran over a mine and he and another were killed. He is buried in grave VII.D.8 of Sfax War Cemetery, Tunisia.
In the action which followed on March 16th-17th, Captain Geoffrey Charles Francis Gwyer (I 1930-1934), a company commander in 6th Grenadier Guards, was also killed (see individual entry).
- Surname: Brooke
- Forenames or initials: Basil Julian David
- House: F
- Years in School: 1933-1938
- Rank: Lieutenant
- Regiment: Grenadier Guards
- Date of Birth: 8th April 1920
- Date of Death: 11th March 1943
- How Died: Killed in Action
- Location in War Cloister: Inner A1
- Decoration: NA
- Burial Site: Sfax War Cemetery, Tunisia: Grave VII.D.8