Son of William James Brook and Sarah Elizabeth Brook, of Fairlie, Canterbury
Accidentally killed on whilst on duty
A researcher working on the War Archives at National Archives found two small faded handwritten notes written in pencil. They were eyewitness accounts of the death of Pte. John Edward Brook (Sn: 10583). They are both slightly different accounts.
Testimony at Court of Inquiry into death of Pte. John Edward Brook. SN: 10583. Statement by 9236 Major P.T. Norris. “On June 24 1942, at Mersa Matruah, I was 2 I/C A Coy 23 N.Z. Bn. At about 2000 hrs I was standing with C.S.M. Wilson at Coy HQ. Pte. Brook was returning from No. 9 Platoon and had missed the track through a network of minefields. He called to the C.S.M. For directions as he evidently did not know whether he was in a minefield or not at that time. Directions were given to him to get to the track. I went into my dugout and within a minute heard an explosion and went outside. The C.S.M. told me that Pte. Brook had been blown up and together we went down along the track to reach him. We found Pte. Brook's body seven or eight yards from the track which he had been approaching. In my mind there was no doubt that he was dead. Arrangements were made for the Engineers to get the body from the minefield.”
Testimony at Court of Inquiry into death of Pte. John Edward Brook. SN: 10583. Statement by 10082 C.D. Wilson. “At approx 2000 hrs 24/6/42 while standing outside Coy HQ I saw Pte. Brook approaching from the direction of No.9 PL. Pte. Brook called out to Capt. Norris of A Coy, and to me for directions as to getting round a Mine Field. Both Capt. Norris and I suggested that he should go either to the Right or to the Left to get round. Capt. Norris then went to the Dugout and Pte Brooks walked a short distance along the wire. Just as I turned away to my Dugout an explosion occurred. I looked round quickly and saw a body which I knew was that of Pte. Brook hurled into the air by the explosion. I then called out to Capt. Norris and said “Shorty has blown up”. We both then went to the scene where we saw that we could do nothing for Pte. Brook as he was dead.
Private J. E. Brook, MM; born NZ 12 Mar 1918; labourer; accidentally killed 24 Jun 1942. (Source: McClymont, W.G. To Greece. p.287.; Ross, A. 23 Battalion. p.44.)
'About 7 a.m., however, they were suddenly disturbed by the enemy, who appeared through the swirling mists about the col and opened fire on A Company headquarters. Some of the forward posts were driven back but 10 Platoon (Second-Lieutenant Begg) of B Company hurried up in time to prevent the enemy getting between A Company and the village. Groups from C and D Companies came up later and the line was eventually steadied after a period of exciting close-quarter work in which Sergeant Mulhern and Private Brook distinguished themselves. The casualties had been one killed and two wounded, both of whom became prisoners of war. After that it was more an exchange of mortar and machine-gun fire, with the Germans' fire seemingly coming in from the heights on both flanks. Private J. E. Brook, MM; born NZ 12 Mar 1918; labourer; accidentally killed 24 Jun 1942.; 23 Battalion - The exchanges of fire at Kokkinoplos went in favour of the defenders. Sergeant Brian Walsh of No. 9 Platoon was killed by one of the first bursts of machine-gun fire. Others were wounded then or later but the Germans suffered the greater casualties. When Sergeant ‘Mick’ Mulhern and Private ‘Shorty’ Brook of 7 Platoon called at Company Headquarters, they were surprised to find it occupied by Germans. Mulhern promptly shot two German machine-gunners before returning to his own platoon. Here he found that his men, with the exception of Corporal Roy Cherry, Private McGoverne and a man from B Company, had pulled back under the enemy fire and the threat of being outflanked. A grenade thrown into the bushes, where the lifting of the mist revealed movement, temporarily halted the Germans but they soon returned to the attack. Hit in the chest by a rifle bullet, Mulhern was left for dead, but he was able to observe the enemy burying their dead. When captured, he was told by an English-speaking German officer that the defending company ‘had accounted for many of his men’ and ‘that besides having many wounded, he had buried 25 men’.' (Source: McClymont, W.G. To Greece. p. 287.; Ross, A. 23 Battalion. p. 44.) AWMM