WW2 letters reminder of uncle’s bravery

Mosgiel resident Neil Hall (82) with some of the letters his late uncle, Private Ted Brooks,...
Mosgiel resident Neil Hall (82) with some of the letters his late uncle, Private Ted Brooks, wrote home to Dunedin during World War 2. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
On Anzac Day, Mosgiel resident Neil Hall finds himself thinking increasingly about the courage of his uncle, wartime dispatch rider Ted Brooks, who died in action during World War 2.

And Mr Hall (82), a resident at the Brooklands Retirement Village, has plenty to remind him of Private Edward (‘‘Ted’’) Graham Brooks, of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, who died, aged 26, in the First Battle of El Alamein, on July 15, 1942.

His uncle was a prolific letter writer and wrote 100 letters home, mainly to his married sister and Mr Hall’s mother, Edna Hall (nee Brooks).

One of Mr Hall’s earliest memories came when, at the age of 3, he saw his uncle before he left Dunedin to fight in Egypt, Greece and Crete.

Pte Brooks was a keen motorcycle rider and competed in regular hill climbs held at Bethune’s Gully, Dunedin, later riding a BSA machine on Egypt’s desert roads.

Mr Hall has written a short summary of his uncle’s wartime exploits, titled "From the Dust of Bethune’s Gully to the Desert Sands of North Africa".

Pte Brooks’ narrowest escape in fierce combat came when a sniper’s bullet went through a mug of tea he was holding, in Egypt.

On another occasion, six Stuka dive bombers attacked as he lay face down on a flat piece of ground, and was uninjured despite the force of exploding bombs lifting him off the ground.

"He was one of the many thousands of Kiwis who answered the call in WW2, with complete disregard to their own personal fears — only a strong desire to help their loved ones back home," Mr Hall wrote in the summary.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter