Obituary: Military chief Patrick Brooking took on Belfast command during Troubles

Maj-Gen Patrick Brooking
Maj-Gen Patrick Brooking

Major-General Patrick Brooking was a military commander in Belfast during some of the most appalling years of the Troubles.

Born in Surrey on April 4, 1937, he went on to join the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards in 1956.

His long military career took him to Northern Ireland in the early 1970s, where in 1973 he became brigade major of 39 Brigade in Belfast, being appointed MBE at the end of his tour.

However his son Johnny, a Lieutenant-Colonel with the Royal Dragoon Guards, said that despite the fraught era in which he found himself, he had enjoyed his Belfast command.

“He loved it,” said Lt-Col Brooking. “He was the first cavalry officer to be brigade chief of staff in Belfast. He found the job very interesting, stimulating, and felt he had helped.”

He subsequently returned to the Province after leaving the forces, having made a number of friends.

But it had hardly been the only stand-out posting of his career, which also took him to Cyprus and Germany.

He developed particularly strong links to the latter, and went on to become chairman of the British-German Association following his retirement in 1990.

A year before stepping down from the forces, he had been promoted to Director-General of Army Manning and Recruiting, and before that, among the other high-ranking posts he took on was Commandant of the British Sector in Berlin in 1985, in the midst of the Cold War.

He was also an Honorary Colonel of the Royal Dragoon Guards.

He died on January 22 aged 76, after having suffered from lung cancer.

He had never smoked.

He had lived in Wiltshire at the time of his death, and his funeral was on January 29.

He was buried at Wilsford cum Lake, nor far from Stonehenge. He is survived by son Johnny, daughter Samantha, widow Pamela, and grandchildren.