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Tommy Drew-Brook

Date of birth: 1898
Date of death: 1978
Area: Castleford
Regiment: Royal Flying Corps
Family information: Husband of Mabel Drew-Brooke nee Clark

War Service

Tommy Drew-Brook joined the Royal Flying Corps as soon as the First World War broke out, although he lied about his age in order to join up. He flew a Sopwith Pup on the Western Front, where the average life expectancy of a pilot was just three weeks. He had several successful flights until, in 1917 the engine of his plane began to go wrong and he was shot at by one of Von Richthofen’s “Flying Circus” pilots. Somehow he survived, despite being hit many times and crash-landed inside German held territory. He was taken to a German hospital and most of the bullets were removed from him, apart from one that was dangerously close to his heart. He was transferred to a Prisoner of War camp but because he was so badly injured, it was agreed that he should be allowed to return home. 
He went to live at his Grandfather’s house in Pontefract to recover but later was able to rejoin his family in Canada. At first he had to use a wheelchair but eventually was able to not do so. 
At the beginning of the Second World War a former Royal Flying Corps friend, William Stephenson, who now worked in Canadian counterintelligence, approached Tommy Drew-Brook and asked if he would help him.
William Stephenson had been asked by Winston Churchill to be a conduit to President Roosevelt. He was to persuade the President to enter the war and help the British cause and also to counter the influence of Nazi sympathisers in the Republican Party. William Stephenson was believed by many after the war to have been Ian Fleming’s inspiration for the fictional spy James Bond.
Tommy Drew-Brook helped in establishing Camp X, a training centre for spies and special services personnel at Whitby, which is on Lake Ontario. Amongst the many spies trained there was the writer Roald Dahl. Tommy Drew-Brook became second in command, being so successful that Americans were also sent there to train. This led to the creation of “Five Eyes” joint intelligence service which involved the countries of Britain, Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand. Drew-Brook helped in setting this organisation up and it still exists today. He thus played a key role working with very senior people in intelligence and also Churchill, during the war. 
He also was a key player in learning about Russian espionage activity against the allies. In 1945 he was working with Igor Gouzenko, a cipher clerk at the Russian embassy in Canada. Igor wanted to defect to the West but initially he was dissuaded to do so as Russia was an ally. However Igor then revealed that he had crucial evidence which showed Russian espionage activity against the allies, in particular about the Manhattan project and the development of the atomic bomb. As soon as the Russians learned of his potential defection and unleasing of this information to the west, they attempted to capture him but Tommy Drew-Brook managed to get him to safety at Camp X. The evidence that Igor provided unmasked a number of top Russian spies and several high profile arrests were made.

Family Life

Tommy Drew-Brook was born in 1898 at Ferry Fryston, Castleford. He had five older brothers and a sister. When he was aged ten he became a pupil at Grosvenor House School in Harrogate. His mother moved to Toronto two years later, after his father had died, leaving him at the boarding school along with his brother George. He had only just finished school when the First World War broke out and he joined up then.
After the First World War he became a stockbroker and was so successful that he became a dollar millionaire, only to lose it all in the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Despite this set back, he managed to continue his career and eventually became the chairman of the Toronto Stock Exchange.
He married Mabel Clark. Her father was Joseph Clark, a reporter and editor of The Toronto Star newspaper. They had three children, Barbara, Geoff and Tom and lived on the outskirts of Toronto. In addition to this house they also had a property on the exclusive Go Home Bay where Tommy would go sailing.
However, in 1939 he was approached to work in counter intelligence by a former Royal Flying Corps friend.
After the Second World War Tommy returned to being a stockbroker and retired in 1958. It was in 1978 that he died.

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