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The story which follows is organized into 17 distinct Chapters describing the Life and Times of HUBERT BROOKS. Each Chapter has a number of Sections. Note that once in a given Chapter the individual Sections can be accessed by the 'quick' Ch Section Select Menu at the top of the page.
Appendix A contains a portion of the Genealogy of the Brooks family – which in itself is a remarkable slice of Canadiana history. Appendix B contains (source) References to material covered in the various chapters.
The story of Wing Commander Hubert Brooks M.C. C.D. is one of the most compelling and at times strangest epics in Royal Canadian Air Force (R.C.A.F.) history.
Hubert Brooks was born in the Peace River town of Bluesky Alberta December 29, 1921. Following the Depression on the prairies in the 1920s the family moved east, first to Ottawa and then to Montreal, where Brooks received his (French based) education and hockey training.
The story commences quite conventionally in the early days of World War II with navigator/bomb aimer training in Canada and then in Britain with 19 O.T.U., finally becoming a member of the R.C.A.F.'s 419 Squadron attached to RAF Bomber Command.
On his second mission over Germany his Wellington aircraft was shot down and Brooks was shortly thereafter captured by the Germans. He was first sent to POW camp Dulag Luft (Oberursel) before being moved to Stalag VIII B. Brooks managed multiple escape attempts from Stalag VIII B work camps succeeding on the third (becoming the first member of 419 Squadron to escape).
He then "escaped to danger" joining the Armia Krajowa (A.K.) partisans, the Polish Underground Army where he was eventually promoted to 2nd lieutenant and put in command of a platoon group of 40 men. For approximately 2 years Brooks evaded re–capture and was engaged in active guerilla warfare against the German army of occupation in southern Poland. As a result of his insurgency activities against the enemy Brooks had a price put on his head which would have resulted in summary execution if captured.
For his multiple escapes during the war Brooks was awarded the Military Cross – an army award – one of only 5 air men to receive this award. Brooks' citation was the longest in RCAF WW II history.
The Poles decorated Brooks with the Polish Cross of Valour and Polish Silver Cross of Merit with Swords recognizing his heroic efforts on their behalf during the war.
After the war Brooks joined the RAF led Commonwealth Forces Missing Research & Enquiry Service (MRES) initially as a Search Officer looking for "missing presumed dead" airmen in Denmark and Norway. Brooks and a colleague made MRES unit history by sailing a fishing smack around Cape Nordkym (Arctic Circle), the most northerly coastal point of the mainland of Europe, in the search for missing WW II airmen. He was then promoted to Section Leader for the MRES in the American zone of Germany.
On returning to Canada from his MRES posting, Brooks was recruited onto the R.C.A.F. Flyers hockey team eventual
gold medal winners of the 1948 Winter Olympics. Brooks had the honour of being the flag bearer for Canada at the 1948 Winter Olympics.
The Canadian soldier olympians were later inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, as well as being recognized as producing the Greatest Moment in Canadian Forces Sports History, finally being recognized as the Greatest Military Atheletes of the 20th Century.
After the Olympics, the R.C.A.F. started to train Brooks for a career in the Military Intelligence field. Training occurred in Ottawa and at the Pentagon in Washington D.C.. Brooks was invited to attend and provide input on the SAC Survivor School Advanced Training Course held at Camp Carson, Colorado.
Brooks then went through a planned sequence of postings where he was trained for Maritime Command at Summerside PEI (2 MOTU); Comox Vancouver Island BC (407 (MP) Squadron ) and finally at Esquimalt Vancouver Island ending with the position of Maritime Air Command (MAC) Liaison Officer representing the R.C.A.F. (and R.C.A.F. aerial intelligence) to the navy's Flag Officer Pacific.
Brooks was next posted to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Paris France as an Intelligence Officer.
He was than posted as Commanding Officer to R.C.A.F. 211 Radar Station Moisie during troubling political times. At that time Brooks was considered to be the first fully bilingual officer in the R.C.A.F.. On his departure the Cité des Sept Iles awarded Brooks with an appreciation plaque giving him the symbolic keys to the city.
Brooks then returned to Ottawa where he was an Intelligence officer with the Air Force eventually rising to the position of Chief IP4 – responsible for military intelligence matters for Europe, Middle East, Africa and South & Central America.
Brooks was briefly sent to Israeli and Egypt immediately following the 6 Day War or the 1967 Arab–Israeli War to review captured armaments and understand first hand both Israeli and Egyptian military positions moving forward.
During the October 1970 crisis in Québec, Brooks was sent to Montreal and Québec City to assess the situation for the Government of Canada as he was considered one of the few military experts in sabotage and guerilla tactics based on his war time activities with the Polish AK.
Brooks retired from the armed services 4–September–1971 following 31 years of military service.
He then joined Université d'Ottawa and became the university's first Housing Director.
On 1–February 1984, Hubert Brooks died of a sudden heart attack while at his desk at the Université d'Ottawa. He was 62 years old. In his honour, Université d'Ottawa named one of their new student residences "The Brooks Residence".
Throughout his life, Brooks was an active supporter of R.A.F.E.S. (Royal Air Force Escape Society) Canadian Branch, Polish Veteran associations and the Military Cadets.
To many of his friends and admirers, he was a Canadian hero.
This biography tells some of the story of the Life and Times of Hubert Brooks M.C. C.D.
"My war time story is full of changes in identity. At the start it was very simple. I was just a young R.C.A.F.
sergeant baling out of a blazing bomber over Germany. The confusion started when I switched identity with a New Zealander in prison camp
and busted myself to private. Later on, I disguised myself – unsuccessfully as a large lump of coal on a freight car and –
successfully – as a laborer in a jam factory. Later I was promoted to Lieutenant in the Polish Armia Krajowa
(Underground Army) and for the next two years I was busy skiing down the Carpathian Mountains of southern Poland liquidating Gestapo agents.
When you're fighting in the hills with a price on your head and no quarter given, the daily task is staying alive."
Hubert Brooks in the Weekend Magazine Article 'Escape To Danger'
"Throughout the whole period, Flight Lieutenant Brooks showed great determination. He was not dismayed or
deterred from attempting to escape by punishments or hardships and even when he was a marked man, he continued to make further plans to
Citation on Awarding the Military Cross to Hubert Brooks
"The story of Flight Lieutenant Hubert Brooks is one of the strangest epics in R.C.A.F. history. On learning
that Brooks was a POW, his sister Doris declared he would be 'too full of the devil for the Nazis to hold.' She was correct – in
LEGION MAGAZINE; Tales Of Flight: Air Force, Part 23 ; September 1, 2007, by Hugh A. Halliday
"Throughout the time he served as an officer with the Polish Home Army he showed great courage and
outstanding ability as a leader. Brooks took part in many ambushes and attacks on the Germans. Brooks was responsible for selecting suitable
landing grounds in the Nowy Sacz, Myslenice and Bochnia areas for aircraft sent from Italy to Poland. He was also responsible for the
security and welfare of 17 British and American soldiers and airmen who were under the protection of the Polish Home Army"
(Polish) F/O W. Schoffer, RAF
RCAF 419 Moose Squadron's FIRST ESCAPEE: April 1942 was an unusually busy month, which saw 419 assist in
28 operations, the squadron's efforts were apportioned among Ruhr–Rhine centres, ..... A foray on one of these ports – Hamburg (8/9 April) –
was the prelude to one of the war's more remarkable escapes, a feat, which by virtue of its perpetrator's persistence and tenacity of purpose,
deserves to be told at length. The featured performer was navigator P/O. Hubert Brooks, first member of 419 Squadron to escape from captivity.
BEWARE THE MOOSE! By Flight Lieutenant A.P. Heathcote Air Historical Branch
Hubert Brooks was one of the five members of the R.C.A.F. awarded the Military Cross in World War II.
(The Military Cross is essentially an Army award.) His citation is the longest of anyone in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The Legionary Magazine No 6 Vol XXIII December, 1947; RCAF article written about Hubert Brooks featured on magazine cover.
This story was told in Polish, which he now speaks fluently. When referring to the Polish soil, he uses
such expressions as: "My region; our mountains, our people." So far as we know, Pilot Officer Brooks is the only Canadian who
was a member of the Polish Home Army.
"I MADE FINE FRIENDS IN POLAND" As Told by Pilot Officer Hubert Brooks to Maria Lubinska THE POLISH REVIEW VOL V No.27 September 6, 1945
S/L Rideal and F/L Brooks made history for the Unit (Missing Research and Enquiry Service) by sailing
in a fishing smack which they boarded (July 23, 1946) at Kirkeness (Norway) around Cape Nordkym (Arctic Circle) the most northerly point
of the mainland of Europe.(in search of missing –presuming dead– airmen from WW2).
The manner in which the 2 officers overcame the difficulties of the terrain and covered the great distances to be travelled without reasonable transport is worthy of high praise. They had not only to carry out searches which involved great physical endurance, but also had to organize their own transport, food and sleeping accommodation without any of the facilities normally available to Royal Air Force Officers when travelling. To cover the area of Norway extending from Trondheim to the extreme north of Finmark in the span of two months is an achievement of which they and our Unit can be proud.
Operations Record Book No 3 MRES Air 29/1598
On hearing of Hubert Brooks' death in 1984 .... This was a shocking experience for me because Hubert was
my closest friend. Our friendship started when he was in Poland and stayed for some time in my family's house. I shall inform Hubert's friends
in Poland- where he was remembered and considered as a Polish hero. Let's hope that his homeland Canada will feel the same .....
Abbot Hubert Kostrzanski July 6, 1984
On hearing of Hubert Brooks' death in 1984 ......The message about so untimely death of Hubert felt like a
bombshell. I met Hubert at the foothills of the Carpathians in Southern Poland in November 1943. Soon he captivated hearts of everyone who
met him because of his highest qualities as a soldier and as a man. Hubert became the most popular partisan in the Polish Highland. And
I believe that nobody can be more modest and humble than Hubert was. I'm proud to say that we became friends and I will always cherish
the memory of that friendship.
Adam Stabrawa "Major Borowy" Dec 20, 1984
|PHOTO of HUBERT BROOKS' Military Medals|
Military Cross (M.C.)
Air Crew Europe Star
Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp
War Medal 1939–45 Mentioned-in-Dispatches
Canadian Centennial Medal (1967)
Canadian Forces Decoration with Clasp (C.D.)
Polish Cross of Valour
Polish Silver Cross of Merit with Swords
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The Life and Times of Hubert Brooks M.C. C.D.