Thomas Humphrey Brooke (1914-1988)
Thomas Humphrey Brooke was born on January 31, 1914 in Yorkshire, England. Brooke graduated with first-class honors in Modern History from Wellington and Magdalen College, Oxford, England. Prior to his enlistment with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) in 1939, Brooke was an Assistant Keeper at the Public Records Office (PRO, now the National Archives of the United Kingdom) for two years.
Brooke served in the K.R.R.C. until 1944, when he transferred to the position of Director of Archives of the MFAA with the Allied Control Commission in Italy. While in Italy, Brooke was stationed in Rome tasked with safeguarding and returning archival materials once U.S. and British forces had secured the area and advanced further. He oversaw the continued efforts of Sir Hilary Jenkinson and other archives officers from April 1944 until his transfer to Austria in May 1945. After the war, Brooke became the Controller of the MFAA for Austria.
Upon his return to England, Brooke was made Deputy Director of the Tate Gallery in 1948. The next year, however, he transferred to the Ministry of Town and Country Planning. He resigned from the civil service in 1951 to join the Royal Academy as its secretary. His secretaryship at the Royal Academy lasted 17 years until his resignation in 1968. A memorable and first order of Brooke’s tenure as Secretary was the safeguarding of Sir John Millias’s lavatory, which had been slated for destruction.
Brooke was diagnosed a manic depressive at the age of 50, but believed that his illness contributed greatly to his intellectual abilities; he thus embraced the heightened state of mind. His openness about his illness in a letter he penned to The Observer in 1982 created support for other suffers and was followed the next year by updated terminology associated with manic depression from the British Journal of Psychiatry.
During his retirement, Brooke became an avid outdoorsman and gardener, taking a particular liking to roses. In time, he became a famous European specialist in the growing of roses and founded the first “roserium” in Suffolk, England dedicated to the conservation of roses.
He was appointed the honor of Member of the Victorian Order (MVO) in 1958 and Commander of the Victorian Order (CVO) in 1969 by the British government.
T. Humphrey Brooke passed away December 24, 1988 at the age of 74.
Photo courtesy of the Walter Gleason Collection, The Monuments Men Foundation Collection, The National WWII Museum, New Orleans, LA.