Frank Brooke

death of brookefuneral brooke


1920 Jul 30 shot by the Squad p123.

Nobody over the years has really suceeded in saying exactly why Frank Brooke was murdered.

A long article on his life and death concludes that the phrase which stands out in several contemporary newspaper reports is that he was ‘a close friend of Sir John French’(and was for that reason always accompanied by a detective). French was Commander-in-Chief of British Home Forces from 1915(having been in charge of the Western Front before that); and he had been in charge at Dublin Castle when the Easter Rising of 1916 was suppressed. Even more importantly, he had become Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in May 1918. As his friend, Brooke was therefore at the very heart of ‘the Castle’, which was regarded by the IRA as their principal target. He was shot for the same reason as Lord Louis Mountbatten was murdered in 1979 -because the IRA wanted to ‘tear the heart out of the British Establishment.

And the author adds a postscript. At the suggestion of a relative of Frank Brooke’s, I have just read UlickO’Connor’s book ‘A Terrible Beauty is Born’ (Panther, 1981), which is said to contain an explanation of why Brooke was assassinated by the IRA in 1920. Whilst the book does not mention him by name, it does indeed explain his murder.In January 1920, the head of the IRA was Michael Collins, who re-organised it and turned it into a disciplined force. When the British authorities refused to recognise the new Irish Republic and started to engage in a policy of repression, Collins decided to ‘put out the eyes of the British’. This meant eliminating anyone who was in a position to give useful information to the Police and the Army. He compiled a database of these ‘spies’ and sent his ‘Squad’ to identify and shoot them. Frank Brooke was doubtless one of the targets, because of his numerous contacts with the British Establishment in Dublin Castle.An explanation, then of why ‘he had to die’; but I suspect that whether one regards this as a justification will depend very much on one’s nationality. From a British point of view, Brooke was just doing his duty. From the Irish nationalist point of view, he was a British agent, in a war which had been going on for centuries, but was originally of Britain’s making

Basil Thomson