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LETTER to ALFRED DEAKIN BROOKES, CARE of HERBERT BROOKES [U.S.A.]

This relatively insignificant looking front was posted with a slogan cancel ‘AIR MAIL/ SAVES TIME’ from MELBOURNE/ 4 35 AM/ 17 OCT/ 1930/ VICTORIA, addressed to the above-named with Commissioner of Australia, New York, USA in the address. The arrival date at the New York, NY/ G.P.O. is not legible. It was underpaid with the red 2d KGV head and there are 3 examples of it having been taxed: a pair of red 2c U.S. Postage Dues; an octagon boxed ‘T’; and, a small circle ‘DUE/ 4/ CENTS’ (Figure 1).

Many of the Brookes family played a highly significant role in Australian history, particularly Herbert, his brother Sir Norman Brookes (of tennis fame), Herbert’s second wife Ivy and one of their sons, Alfred Deakin Brookes who was named after the family’s good friend, Alfred Deakin (Australia’s 2ND , 5TH & 7TH Prime Minister, the first time in 1903-04 and last time 1909-10).

Less is known about the primary addressee, Alfred Deakin Brookes who was appointed as the chief of the Australian Army section of the Far Eastern Liaison Office (FELO). Brookes joined the army as a Lieutenant and was seconded to the Allied Intelligence Bureau in Melbourne in World War 2. FELO was responsible for preparation of propaganda for dissemination to lower the morale of the Japanese forces, misleading the Japanese regarding our military intentions, and influencing the New Guinea natives so that they would impair the Japanese war effort and assist the Allies.

Alfred played another important role post-war as head of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS). Prime Minister Robert Menzies established ASIS on May 13, 1952, in a meeting of the Executive Council. The existence of ASIS remained a secret even within the Government for a period of twenty year! On November 1, 1972 ASIS was sensationally exposed by The Daily Telegraph which ran an exposé regarding recruitment of ASIS agents from Australian Universities for espionage activities in Asia. In more peaceful times, Alfred was with his parents in New York in 1930, and was responsible for naming Brookes Street in Point Lonsdale, Victoria where his father had a summer family retreat.

Herbert Robinson Brookes, the second of the seven children of William Brookes and his wife Catherine, was born in Sandhurst, Victoria on 20 December 1867. He was educated at Wesley College, and the University of Melbourne, where he graduated B.E. in 1892. Herbert worked on the Victorian mining fields of Creswick and Omeo, and in 1897 married Jennie, daughter of Rev. Charles Strong of the Australian Church, Melbourne, but Jennie died two years later. In 1900 Brookes accompanied Alfred Deakin and his family to Europe, and in 1905 he married Ivy, the oldest Deakin daughter. There were three children of their marriage, Wilfred, Jessie and Alfred. A photo of Herbert in a relaxed pose is shown in (Figure 2).

Brookes had multiple business interests and he also had pastoral properties in Queensland and Western Australia. From 1913 until 1917 he was President of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, and in 1917 was President of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures. During this time he was a member of the State War Council, the State Munitions Committee, the Electricity Supply Board, and the Australian Protective League.

Both Herbert and Ivy Brookes were associated with the formation of the Commonwealth Liberal Party in 1909 and the People's Liberal Party in 1911. Herbert edited The Liberal from 1911 until it ceased publication in 1914. He worked for the Commonwealth Government as a member of the Board of Trade (1918-28), the Tariff Board (1922-28), as Commissioner-General in the United States of America (1929-30) and as the first Vice-Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (1932-40). From 1933 until 1947 he was a member of the Council of the University of Melbourne.

The Brookes also gave freely of their time and wealth to the cultural and community life of Melbourne. They worked for the establishment of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra through the Lady Northcote Trust Fund, and in 1934 endowed the University Conservatorium of Music, with a new wing. They were executive members of the League of National Union, and the Bureau of Social and International Affairs. Herbert Brookes died in Melbourne on 1 December, 1963.

Ivy Deakin was born in Melbourne on 14 July 1883, and she was educated privately, and at Merton Hall, before studying violin and singing at the Conservatorium of Music, where in 1904 she was awarded a scholarship for singing. Herbert shared her interest in music and together they worked as executive members of the Lady Northcote Permanent Orchestra Trust Fund from 1908 until the 1960's. Ivy, from 1926 until 1969 was a member of the Faculty of Music, the University of Melbourne. She died on 27 December 1970 and was survived by her 3 children. Herbert’s first wife Jennie, Ivy and Herbert Brookes are buried in St Kilda Cemetery (Figure 3).


 
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