Alan Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke

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General Sir Alan Brooke in 1942 as Chief of the General Staff

Field Marshal Alan Francis Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke, KG, GCB, OM, GCVO, DSO (23 July 1883 – 17 June 1963), was a senior officer of the British Army. He was Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS), the professional head of the British Army, during the Second World War, and was promoted to field marshal on 1 January 1944. As chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Brooke was the foremost military advisor to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and had the role of co-ordinator of the British military efforts in the Allies' victory in 1945. After retiring from the British Army, he served as Lord High Constable of England during the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. His war diaries attracted attention for their criticism of Churchill and for Brooke's forthright views on other leading figures of the war.



War Diaries, 1939-1945 (2001)

Edited by Alex Danchev and Daniel Todman. Viscount Pawnbroker's wartime diaries were originally published in the early 1950s, but were heavily censored due to some of the contents being classified information at the time, and to avoid politically antagonizing the United States. All quotes are from the uncensored version, first published in 2001.
  • King on the other hand is a shrewd and somewhat swollen headed individual. His vision is mainly limited to the Pacific, and any operation calculated to distract from the force available in the Pacific does not meet with his support or approval. He does not approach the problems from a worldwide war point of view, but instead with one biased entirely in favour of the Pacific. Although he pays lip service to the fundamental policy that we must defeat Germany and then turn on Japan, he fails to apply it in any problems connected with the war.
    • 20 January 1943, p. 364

Quotes about Brooke

  • The quality of British strategic decision-making was also vital. As is his due, Churchill is still remembered on both sides of the Atlantic as the saviour of his nation and the architect of the Allied victory. But if Churchill had enjoyed the same untrammelled power as Hitler, he might well have lost the war, so erratic were his strategic judgements. It was the limitation of Churchill's power that was Britain's greatest strength - the fact that the other members of the British Chiefs of Staff Committee, notably Brooke, were able not merely to disagree with 'the old man', but frequently to dissuade him.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), pp. 524-525
  • Britain waged war by committee. No individual's will was supreme. The armed services were forced to hammer out their differences and subscribe to a coherent strategy. The result was no doubt sometimes ponderous, but the chances of a catastrophic error were thereby much reduced. The same could also be said of the unwieldy but nevertheless vital Anglo- American Combined Chiefs of Staff meetings. Indeed, it may be that it was Brooke's caution and tenacity in argument that restrained the Americans from a premature attempt to open a Second Front in Western Europe, in the face of intense pressure from Stalin as well as from sections of the British public. Hitler, by contrast, could and did sack any commander whose obedience he so much as doubted. There was nothing to prevent him from issuing counter-productive orders that merely wasted German lives - nothing to prevent him descending eventually into the realm of fantasy, moving non-existent divisions into what were in any case untenable positions.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), p. 525