Field Marshal Alan Francis Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke, KG, GCB, OM, GCVO, DSO (July 23, 1883 - June 17, 1963) was a British Field Marshal during World War II.
Born at Bagnères de Bigorre to a prominent Northern Irish family, Alan Brooke was educated in France and at the Royal Military College, Woolwich. During World War I he served with the Royal Artillery in France, ending the conflict as a Lieutenant-Colonel. Between the wars he was a lecturer at Camberley Staff College and the Imperial Defence College, where he worked with most of the leading British officers of the Second World War.
Following the outbreak of World War II, Brooke commanded the II Corps of the British Expeditionary Force and played a leading role in the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk. In July 1940 he was appointed to command United Kingdom Home Forces and in December 1941 was promoted Chief of the Imperial General Staff and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, a post which he held until 1946.
In this role, Brooke served as the foremost military advisor to the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, the War Cabinet, and to Britain's allies. As CIGS, Brooke was the functional head of the Army, and as head of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, which he dominated by force of intellect and personality, he was responsible for the overall strategic direction of the war effort. Although the post of CIGS may not have been as glamorous as a high-profile field command, its importance cannot be overstated, and Brooke was the perfect officer in the post. Only he among the senior naval and military staff was able to stand up to Churchill, whose military aspirations were enormous, believing himself to be the reincarnation of his ancestor the first Duke of Marlborough, but whose judgement on military and strategic matters was often volatile and impetuous. Brooke was offered command of British forces in the Middle East, which he declined, believing that that he ought to remain in Britain to prevent Churchill from leading the country into any foolhardy military adventures, a decision that was undoubtedly in the best interests of Britain and her Allies.
He believed that the prime minister had offered him command of the Allied invasion of Western Europe and was bitterly disappointed to be passed over in favour of American General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Nevertheless, Brooke's masterful command of the priorities of strategic planning, and of the importance of co-operation among disparate allies, as well as his instinctive knowledge of the various field commanders under his control made him a pivotal figure at the highest levels of the Allied command.
Brooke was created Baron Alanbrooke, of Brookeborough, County Fermanagh, in 1945, and Viscount Alanbrooke in 1946. Having won the Distinguished Service Order in World War One, he was appointed KCB in 1940, became a Knight of the Garter and a member of the Order of Merit in 1946, and finally received both the GCB and GCVO in 1953. He also served as Chancellor of the Queen's University of Belfast from 1949 until his death.
The publication in 2001 of Alanbrooke's uncensored War Diaries attracted attention for their insight into the day-to-day running of the British war effort and their, at times, forthright criticism of Winston Churchill and other leading figures of the time.