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John Edward Brook



  • Title
  • Forenames
    John Edward AWMM
  • Surname
    Brook AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    Shorty AWMM
  • Service number
    10583 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    12 March 1918 AWMM AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    Unknown AWMM Mount Cook Road, Fairlie, Canterbury, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    Mr William James Brook (father), Mount Cook Road, Fairlie, Canterbury, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Unknown AWMM Single AWMM


Wars and conflicts

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  • War
  • Campaign
    • Western Desert AWMM
    • Greece AWMM
    • 1941 AWMM
      World War 2/wars AWMM
      Crete AWMM
  • Armed force / branch
    Army AWMM
  • Service number
    10583 AWMM
  • Military service
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards
    • Military Medal (MM) AWMM
      4 November 1941 AWMM
      'At KOKKINOPOLIS, Greece, on 17 April 1941 Private Brook was a member of the rear-guard above the village. They were attacked by enemy light machine guns and mortars and their Sergeant was wounded. While throw1ng a hand-grenade the Sergeant was again hit and fatally injured but Private Brook seized the grenade and threw it, killing two of the enemy and preventing them entering the position.'. (Source: The National Archives. Recommendation for Award for Brook, John Edward. (Ref. WO 373/27/363). Military Medal. AWMM
    • 1939-1945 Star AWMM
    • Africa Star AWMM
    • Defence Medal AWMM
    • War Medal 1939-1945 AWMM
    • New Zealand War Service Medal AWMM

Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
    WW2 Unknown AWMM Labourer/Civilian AWMM
    TimaruCanterbury AWMM
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment

Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes
    Accidental Death, Cause of Death AWMM
    Accidentally killed on active service walking through a minefield AWMM

Last known rank

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Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • 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
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About death

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  • Death
    24 June 1942 AWMM
    Age 24 AWMM
    Western DesertNorth Africa AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
    El Alamein War Cemetery, Egypt AWMM Plot 52, Row D, Grave 22 AWMM
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

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  • External links
  • Documents
    • Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force. (1941). Nominal Roll Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force No. 2 (Embarkations to 30th June, 1940). Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Printer. AWMM
      WW2 2: WW2 25 AWMM
    • McClymont, W. (1959). To Greece. Wellington, N.Z.: Department Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
      p.287. AWMM
    • Ross, A. (1959). 23 Battalion. Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
      p.44. 23 NZ BN. Unit Historical Records – Court Martial and Courts of Inquiry, WAII, Series 1, DA56/15/7 Vol.1, Archives NZ (Wellington) AWMM
    • Information kindly provided by family AWMM
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