INDIA-L ArchivesArchiver > INDIA > 1999-03 > 0921533104
Subject: Obituary: AIR COMMODORE Ian Brodie
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1999 14:25:04 -0700 (MST)
August 04, 1993
The Daily Telegraph, London.
AIR COMMODORE Ian Brodie, who has died aged 94, was closely
associated with Lawrence of Arabia in that enigmatic figure's subsequent
incarnation as Aircraftman T E Shaw.
In 1926 Brodie was posted to India to join No 5, an Army co-operation
squadron; aboard the troop ship Derbyshire, he found that Shaw alias
Lawrence was in the draft under his command.
Two years later he again came upon Lawrence when he was posted as 27
Squadron's C Flight commander at Miramshah Fort on the North-West
Frontier, surrounded by unruly Waziri and Afghan tribes.
Lawrence served there as Brodie's clerk. "A very good one too", Brodie
recalled. "He almost always produced a typed reply before presenting me
with the original incoming letter or signal."
Air HQ India was considering withdrawing the flight from the fort but
Brodie was eager to retain his first command, and Lawrence to remain in
the wilderness. Between them, they persuaded the authorities to leave
the flight at Miramshah.
Lawrence wrote from Miramshah that "we have had an idyllic two and a
half months here under the best and kindest CO of my experience". He
repaid Brodie's kindness by using his influence in Whitehall and
elsewhere to obtain perks for the fort. He even persuaded George Bernard
Shaw to offer to pay for a swimming pool, though this project eventually
had to be abandoned.
Flying in India in the 1920s was seldom without incident. Once Brodie
lost sight of a train carrying the King of Afghanistan, which his flight
was escorting. Two hours later, after a frantic aerial search, the train
was found in a tunnel: it emerged that the King had mistaken an
emergency cord for a lavatory chain, and pulled it.
The happy collaboration between Brodie and Lawrence came to an end when
a high-grade signal from Air Officer Commanding India was received
ordering Lawrence's recall to Britain; although the message was
addressed to Brodie, he was confounded by the cipher, and it was
Lawrence who decrypted it.
Ian Eustace Brodie was born in Sept 1898 at San Remo, Italy, where his
father was installing an electrical system. Young Ian was educated at
Oundle and entered the Royal Navy (his second choice to the Sappers) in
1916 as a cadet at Keyham College, Devonport. He later attended a
sub-lieutenants' course at St John's College, Cambridge.
In 1917 he served in Marlborough in the 1st Battle Squadron. The next
year he was in Canterbury of the elite Light Cruiser Squadron and
proceeded to the Dardanelles to shadow the German cruiser Goebens.
Subsequently he was navigation officer in Bramble in the Persian Gulf,
but in 1923 he fell victim to the service cuts known as the "Geddes
Axe". Fortunately, his father knew Sir Samuel Hoare, Minister for Air,
and the next year Brodie was commissioned in the RAF. He joined the
"Tadpole Flight" of the "Suicide Club" - otherwise No 406 Fleet Fighter
Flight - to learn deck-landing on aircraft carriers.
One of his early duties was to look after a temporary landing ground at
Lossiemouth used by the Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, who invited
him for a round of golf. Brodie was surprised to find that the Prime
Minister was barred from the Lossiemouth Golf Club; the committee nursed
doubts about his patriotism. Consequently, MacDonald was obliged to use
an inferior course some miles away.
After his years in India, Brodie joined No 43 Squadron (the "Fighting
Cocks") at Tangmere in 1930. Flying a Siskin III A, he was selected for
the aerobatic team in the 1931 Hendon and Croydon air displays.
Later in the 1930s, as an armament specialist, Brodie served in Iraq. He
joined the Royal Exodus Hunt and also hunted with the Baghdad Boar Hunt.
On the outbreak of war in 1939 he was an armament and navigation officer
at the Air Ministry's gunnery and navigational schools. He set up the
new Central Gunnery School and in August 1940 became its first commander
at Warmwell in Dorset.
As Senior Air Staff Officer in No 25 and 29 (Armament) Groups, Brodie
was much envied for owning and flying his own Gladiator, an obsolescent
biplane which he had retrieved from a maintenance unit. He caused a
sensation when he flew his Gladiator into Aldergrove, in Northern
Ireland, when assuming command of that station in September 1942.
The next year he was posted to Iceland as SASO for operations, and
between 1945 and 1947 was acting Air Vice-Marshal advising the Italian
Later in 1947 he was appointed deputy director of Intelligence
(Security) at the Air Ministry. This led, after his retirement in 1951,
to a civilian post as intelligence security officer with NAAFI.
Brodie worked strenuously for the Boy Scout movement. He was a keen
yachtsman, boxed, ski-ed, rowed and played golf, rugby, squash and
Brodie was appointed OBE in 1941 and mentioned in despatches in 1945. He
was a Deputy Lieutenant for Buckinghamshire.
He married, in 1925, Mary Gonville Coates; they had three daughters.