Thursday 14 March 2024

Sir John Reeve Brooke (1880-1937) - Staff Captain D.A.A.G. 1915-17, Vice-Chairman of the Electricity Commission, Principal Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Transport 1920-23; Secretary 1923-27


With thanks to Rupert Brooke Remembered Facebook Page for finding this information for us

John Reeve Brooke was born in London in 1880 – the birth being registered in the third quarter of that year.  His parents were John Reeve Brooke (1848-1932), a Barrister, and his wife, Charlotte Mary, nee Baldwin-Browne. John Reeve Brooke Senior was the son of the Reverend Richard England Brooke (1821-1900) and the brother of William Parker Brooke (1850-1910), Rupert Brooke’s father – the famous poet Rupert Brooke was seven years younger than his cousin John.    

Young John Reeve Brooke was educated at Haileybury College School in Hertfordshire before going on to study at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University.

On the 1911 Census we find John staying in Surrey and described as a Journalist.  He joined the National Health Insurance Commission in 1912 as secretary (assistant) to its head - Robert Morant - who had been given the unprecedented task of organising the registration and collection of insurance contributions from 15 million people. Morant also had to bring in agreements with doctors to implement a national system of general practitioners. The experience gained by Brooke working on the most ambitious Government project dependent on the collection of personal and other related information to date, would surely have had an impact on his approach to his  work for Fabian Ware.

Major General Sir Fabian Arthur Goulstone Ware, KCVO, KBE, CB, CMG.

During the First World War, Ware was too old to fight so instead he commanded a mobile Red Cross unit on the Western Front.  He was appalled at the number of casualties and his unit began to record all the graves they came across.   In 1915, this initiative was officially recognized by the British Government and was incorporated into the British Army as the “Graves Registration Commission”.

John worked with Major General Sir Fabian Ware from the early days of the Mobile Unit.  He joined the Unit on 2nd October 1914 and became the Unit’s Adjutant, or officer in charge of key elements of its personnel and financial administration. His role in the Mobile Unit, as well as recording much of the detail in the early surviving Unit Diaries, was that of administrator and financial manager. For example in a diary entry for Wednesday 16 December 1914 Brooke is recorded as having spent time sorting out longer term arrangements for the finances for the Unit with a Red Cross Official in Boulogne.

In common with the rest of the officers of the Mobile Unit, John was given a so called local rank (a temporary rank in the Army on the Western Front) in late February 1915 (Lieutenant) and then a formal Army commission as Captain at the end of September 1915, slightly ahead of the rest of the Commission with its transfer to the Army in October of that year.

In 1920, John married Dorothy Lamb (1887 – 1967) who worked for various British Government Departments during the First World War. 

John Reeve Brooke was knighted on 16th February 1928 - dubbed at Buckingham Palace. 

He died in 1937.

Original Source:  Post on Rupert Brooke Remembered Facebook Page:

Additional information from:

 Find my Past, FreeBMD,

Obituary in the “Hampstead News” of 08 April 1937

Sir John Reeve Brooke (1880-1937)

Find a Grave