Matthew Charles Thomas Brooks (George Grey 1968 – 1972)
The tragic death of Field Reservist Matthew Charles Thomas Brooks was reported with deep regret on 5 June 1977 when he was accidentally shot while trying to apprehend an absconding suspect in the operational area.
Matt Brooks was born in Bulawayo on 22 January 1954 and began his education at St John’s Preparatory School in Salisbury. His secondary education was started at Falcon College and finally completed at Churchill High School and, as befitting a very keen sportsman, Matt represented both schools at rugby, cricket and water polo as well as playing rugby for Mashonaland Schools.
On leaving school, he furthered his education by attending Gwebi Agricultural College, Course 24 (from 1973 to 1974) and again he represented the college, with distinction, at rugby and cricket.
When called up for his National Service, Matt volunteered for the B.S.A. Police and he was accepted for NS Squad 9/74. Matt spent his National Service stationed with Traffic Section at Salisbury Central.
As a field reservist on indefinite call-up last year, he served with the Marine Section and saw active service on Lake Kariba. Matt applied himself with his customary vigour to operational duties on the Lake and within a short time, he was made Section Leader in charge of a patrol boat.
Matt later transferred to Salisbury Province PATU as he was working for a Salisbury-based agricultural company. His qualities of leadership, cheerful resilience and ability for navigation proved invaluable to his PATU stick on their duties. Matt served actively in various operational areas throughout Rhodesia before his untimely death on 5 June 1977.
The semi-military funeral for Field Reservist Brooks took place at Salisbury on 9 June 1977. Amongst the large gathering of mourners were many members of the Force including the Commissioner’s Representative, Supt P. M. Halkier, Staff Officer Welfare and Sport; Supt J. Carroll of Police Headquarters, and members of Matt’s PATU stick who acted as pallbearers.
To his widow, Julia and her son, Scott, we express the deepest sympathies of all members of the Force who had the true pleasure of knowing and serving with Matt.
From the BSAP magazine, The Outpost, June 1977
Matt’s widow, Julia Burdett, adds,
Matt was also an amazing shot and was awarded his Marksman badge. His second son, Mark Gerard Matthew Brooks was born a month or so after his death, on 13 July 1977.
Mr Matthew “Matt” Charles Thomas Brooks (23)
5th June, 1977. Born in Bulawayo in January 1954.
Course 24, from Salisbury.
Matt was awarded the Campbell Shield for the best all-round Second Year student in tobacco. He helped prepare and exhibit the Hereford and Holstein cattle at the Marandellas, Umtali and Salisbury Shows in 1973. He had been awarded best all-round student in Poultry Husbandry and runner-up for Judging Dairy Cattle during his first year.
Field Reservist, PATU, BSAP, killed accidentally on active service aged 23 years whilst trying to apprehend an absconding suspect, Rutenga.
From the Gwebi College online Roll of Honour
Top: Studio portrait of Matt
Middle: Matt & Julia on their wedding day
Bottom: Matt & Julia at a family braii; fellow BSAP National Serviceman Kevin Cooney in the background
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