New Zealand Law Society - Julian Cornelius Brook, 1890 - 1918

Julian Cornelius Brook, 1890 - 1918

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Julian Brook died of wounds in France at the age of 28. He is buried at Adanac Military Cemetery in Miraumont, France.

Julian was born on 9 July 1890 at Waipu to Julian and Mary Brook. His father was headmaster of Birkdale School, which he attended before going to Auckland Grammar School where he completed his secondary education in 1907. While at Auckland Grammar he was awarded a number of academic prizes, including a Rawlings Scholarship for 1904. He won a University Entrance Scholarship in his last year.

Brook became a student at Auckland University College in 1908. He was an active hockey player, playing for the University College Club. He was also an enthusiastic orator, entering the Lord Islington Medal for competitive oratory in 1911. His subject was "Robert Burke" but he was unplaced. He also played lacrosse, for the Rowing Club.

He graduated BA in 1911 and LLB in 1912 and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in 1913. His first legal work was with Buddle, Button and Co, where he specialised in Native Land Laws.This was followed by time with Parr and Blomfield. He then went to New Plymouth, where he worked for the law firm Roy and Nicholson. He left New Plymouth to go into partnership at Kohukohu with William Hawea Kirkpatrick in the firm Kirkpatrick and Brook. 

While at Kohukohu he enlisted on 15 August 1914. His army medical report says he was 5 foot 8.5 tall (1.74 metres), weighed 154 pounds (69.9 kg) and had "dark eyes" and "dark hair". He embarked from New Zealand as a Corporal with the Auckland Infantry Battalion on 16 October 1914. He was involved in the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and was wounded that day, being admitted to hospital in Alexandra on 30 April. He had recovered by 26 June and was returned to Gallipoli where he was wounded again during the fighting at Chunuk Bair on 8 August and returned to Alexandra, before returning to Gallipoli for a third time on 23 October 1915.

After the withdrawal from Gallipoli Brook was promoted to Sergeant on 19 November 1915, and to Company Sergeant-Major on 3 April 1916.

In 1916 the Taranaki Daily News carried an item which stated: "Sergeant Major JC Brook, formerly of Messrs Roy and Nicholson's staff, New Plymouth, has been selected for a commission and is returning to New Zealand." (Taranaki Daily News, 28 September 1916, page 4).

Brook was one of several soldiers selected for a commission who were returned to New Zealand. They left England on the SS Remuera, arriving in Auckland on 5 November 1916 and being given annual leave before reporting to Trentham on 21 November.

On his arrival Brook was briefly the subject of national attention when it was revealed he had been carrying a bullet in his head:

"Among the soliders who arrived by the Remuera from England yesterday, was Sergeant-Major J.C. Brook who had the curious experience of carrying a bullet in his head for seven months while on service. He has now returned for a commission. He is the son of Mr J. Brook, headmaster of Birkdale school. Sergeant-Major Brook fought in Gallipoli and in France. While in Gallipoli, he was wounded twice, one bullet entering below the jaw. Seven months afterwards, he became aware of a slight lump on his face, near the chin. The lump became larger, and he was advised to see the doctor. To the astonishment of himself and the doctor a bullet was drawn forth. Sergeant-Major Brook went to the front as a corporal in the 15th North Auckland Regiment, and is a partner in the firm of Messrs Kirkpatrick and Brook, solicitors, Kohukohu." (New Zealand Herald, 6 November 1916, page 4). 

He was promoted to second lieutenant on 19 December 1916 and appointed as Assistant Adjutant (5th Reserve Battalion) in England. In October 1917 it was reported that he was still in England, involved in what was described as "educational propaganda". 

It appears that he preferred active service, as reported by the Auckland Star: "... [he] was actively engaged in educational propaganda since October last year until he was recently allowed to proceed to the firing line, after futile repeated applications to be allowed to go to France. His educational work in England was highly valued, and the greatest reluctance was evidenced in relinquishing his services in this direction." (Auckland Star, 23 September 1918, page 9).

On 2 September 1918, Lieutenant Julian Brook died at the Number 3 New Zealand Field Ambulance Station of wounds which he had received the previous day during the Battle of the Scarpe by the Canal du Nord.

He is remembered on memorials at Auckland Grammar and in the building of the Auckland District Law Society Inc. Twelve memorial trees were also planted in the Birkdale School grounds to preserve the memory of the 12 ex-pupils of the school who were killed while serving in World War I. A tablet at the foot of each tree bears the name of one of the soldiers, and one reads: "J.C. Brook, 1918".

Sources: New Zealand Herald, 21 December 1903, page 5; New Zealand Herald, 14 December 1905, page 19; Auckland Star, 18 December 1908, page 2; Auckland Star, 29 April 1910, page 7; Auckland Star, 3 April 1911, page 5; New Zealand Herald, 21 June 1911, page 8; Dominion, 15 April 1912, page 7; Auckland Star, 21 May 1913, page 2; Poverty Bay Herald, 5 June 1915, page 8; New Zealand Herald, 26 June 1915, page 5; Nelson Evening Mail, 6 September 1915, page 7; Taranaki Daily News, 28 September 1916, page 4; New Zealand Herald, 6 November 1916, page 4; New Zealand Gazette, 31 May 1917; Dominion 29 May 1917, page 4; Northern Advocate, 3 September 1917, page 2; Northern Advocate, 12 September 1918, page 2; Auckland Star, 23 September 1918, page 9; WS Austin, The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (LT Watkins Ltd, Wellington, 1924), page 373; Auckland Star, 15 November 1926, page 9.

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph soldier profile.

This obituary has been prepared by the New Zealand Law Society to preserve the memory of members of the legal profession who died while serving in World War I.

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By Geoff Adlam, New Zealand Law Society. Further information is welcomed:

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