W/C Hubert Brooks
M.C. C.D.

Flight Sgt. Hubert Brooks was posted to 419 squadron in February of 1942. It was a month of many operational stand downs and missions scrubbed for various reasons. F/Sgt. Brooks’ second month at 419 found the squadron going through a series of training or re-training for the crews on the Wellington III (X.3467). Although these training orders could also include what was termed “milk runs”, usually dropping “Nickels” over France, these leaflet runs if they were carried out are not recorded in squadron Ops Logs.
The night of April 8, 1942 found F/S Brooks and his fellow crewmen on a mission to Hamburg; together, with the exception of F/Sgt. McWilliam replacing F/Sgt. Barbour as 2nd pilot, they had completed a successful bombing operation on Le Havre three nights earlier. This mission to Hamburg was not to be a repeat of that first success. As the Wellington was initiating its run into Hamburg, both engines caught fire and the aircrew was forced to immediately parachute from the plane. As it would turn out, all of the aircrew made it safely to the ground, with the tragic exception of the rear gunner, P/O Howard, whose parachute had apparently jammed in the rear escape hatch which caused Howard to ride down to his death in the burning bomber.
Brooks landed in a field close to a farmhouse about two miles north of Oldenburg (Germany). On landing, he came down heavily on his left leg and his parachute pack landed even more heavily on his head with one of the buckles opened a gash in his skull which started to bleed profusely. The time was approximately one A.M. on the 9th of April 1942. Brooks started walking and by dawn made it to the outskirts of Leer (located in the northwestern part of Germany by the Dutch border). His injuries prevented him from making further progress so he approached a farmhouse looking for help. Unfortunately the farmer was German who immediately notified the police. By eight o'clock that on the morning of April 9th, 1942 Brooks was a prisoner of war. Brooks was brought to the Police H.Q. and then to the German Air Force airfield in Oldenburg where he discovered the entire surviving crew had also been captured. Brooks and the crew were each interrogated for about 1 hour. Brooks was first sent to Dulag Luft, near Frankfurt A/M, and then sent to Stalag VIII B, Lamsdorf, Silesia. This led to a series of three escapes from his captivity. Escapes that brought threats of death and beatings as a way of making an example of Brooks to anyone else that had thoughts of escaping. The beatings and days spent in solitary confinement in no way seemed to deter this man from being free and a nuisance to his German captors. The events that occurred during these escape attempts were like those of a work of fiction, but were real events in the life of an extraordinary personality. Interwoven in these escapes were identity switches, escapes into stormy nights sneaking past patrolling guards, cross country hide and seek with authorities, being turned in by pro-German citizens to the Gestapo. And this is only part of the ordeals Brooks encountered on his first escape.
With the third successful escape, Brooks became the first member of 419 Squadron to escape from captivity. (reference: BEWARE THE MOOSE! By Flight Lieutenant A.P. Heathcote; Air Historical Branch) Brooks made his way to Poland and in May 1943 joined the Armia Krajowa (A.K.) partisans, the Polish Underground Army. Operating with the A.K. in an area south of Cracow in the Carpathian Mountains Brooks was eventually promoted to 2nd lieutenant and put in command of a platoon group of 40 men. For approximately 2 years, until February 1945, Brooks evaded re–capture and was engaged in active guerilla warfare against the German army of occupation in southern Poland. As a result of his insurgency activities against the enemy Brooks had a price put on his head by the Germans which would have resulted in summary execution if captured. Brooks was liberated by the Russian Army and returned to the United Kingdom in March 1945 via Lwow, Kiev, Odessa and Cairo. For services rendered prior to and subsequent to his escape from Germany, Brooks was awarded the Military Cross (M.C.) (the Military Cross was normally an Army medal - Brooks was one of the five members of the R.C.A.F. awarded the Military Cross in World War II) (Brooks’ M.C. citation was the longest of anyone in the Royal Canadian Air Force during WW2). For his activities in the Polish Underground Movement (A.K.) Brooks was awarded the Polish Cross of Valour and the Polish Cross of Merit with Swords. In addition, Brooks was also mentioned in dispatches. Brooks’ initial training, time with 419 squadron, his capture, his escapes, his evasion and underground work with the Polish A.K., his liberation by the Russian Army, his post-war time with Missing Research & Enquiry Service (MRES) looking for "missing presumed dead" airmen in Denmark, Norway and the American zone of Germany, his time with the 1948 World and Olympic Hockey Champions the RCAF Flyers also being honoured as the Winter Olympic Flag Bearer for Canada and much more is all recorded in the web site
Life and Times of Hubert Brooks M.C. C.D. A Canadian Hero