Field Marshal Viscount Alanbrooke was one of the most influential war leaders of the Twentieth Century, steering the country’s armed forces through some of the toughest challenges of the Second World War to ultimate victory. Alanbrooke was a military realist, and a seasoned strategic planner after seeing many false assumptions result in the carnage of the First World War.
He was born Alan Brooke in the French town of Bagneres de Bigorre on the 23rd July, 1883 into an Irish family with a history of high ranking military service. He was no exception, passing out of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and progressing through artillery appointments in Ireland, India and on the Western Front in the First World War to reach the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. His experience gave him a strong belief in the dominant effect of firepower on the battlefield, although he can not be labelled as one of the early pioneers of mechanised warfare.
In 1919 he was selected for the first post-war course at the Staff College, Camberley, where he impressed with his knowledge and eloquence. After serving on the staff of the Territorial Army in Northumbria he returned to Camberley in 1923 as an instructor, working alongside some of his fellow students and distinguished contemporaries such as J F C Fuller, Viscount Gort, Paget and Montgomery. He also studied and later instructed at the new Imperial Defence College.
Brooke reached the pinnacle of his career in 1941 when he became the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, a position he held until the end of the war in 1945. In negotiations with the allies he presented a united front due to his insistence on absolute agreement between Chiefs of Staff on matters of importance. Though his relationship with Churchill was difficult at times, the two men had a great respect for each other and Brooke was able to overcome the Prime Minister’s stubborn nature with his own strong personality, making theirs a successful partnership. In the years during and after the Second World War he had numerous honours conferred upon him, ultimately receiving the title of Viscount Alanbrooke in January 1946.