History of The Broke Cup
Presented to the Mid-Norfolk Village Cricket League in 1951 by Major-General Robert Broke. He distinguished himself by displaying great bravery on his first day of action in 1940 during World War II. His actions earned him the Military Cross. He loved cricket and he presented the Broke Cup to the League to be played for as a 20 over knockout competition. He died in January 2002 aged 88 and his memorial service was held at Holme Hale.
The Daily Telegraph obituary:-
MAJOR-GENERAL ROBERT BROKE, who has died aged 88, was awarded the Military Cross in France in 1940, and later rose to be Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery in the 1970s.
In May 1940, as the Germans launched their offensive in the West, Broke, then an acting captain, was serving on the staff of 12th Division. This was a Territorial formation which had been sent to France for "labour duties" but which was soon caught up in heavy fighting. On May 20, Broke was sent forward in an open and unarmed car by divisional headquarters to get information as to the enemy's whereabouts. Driving towards Arras, he was heavily bombed while passing through Abbeville and discovered, as he approached Doullens, that enemy armoured vehicles were in the town.
This information enabled appropriate orders to be issued to his division. Shortly after his return to divisional headquarters, he was sent out again to ascertain the location of a brigade which was supposed to be withdrawing from the east to the west bank of the Somme.
Reaching a bridge four miles south of Abbeville, Broke learned that enemy armour was on the opposite bank of the river and heard machine-gun fire there. Undeterred, he turned north and pushed through Abbeville itself, hoping to find a way through to the brigade, but on the eastern outskirts he encountered more enemy armour and escaped only with difficulty and under fire.
Broke was unable to reach the brigade, but the information he took back to divisional headquarters was of the utmost value in enabling further plans to be made, and it was for this that Broke won his MC. The citation praised his "coolness, daring and great devotion to duty", and declared that "the lucidity of the information which he brought in on each occasion was invaluable".
Robert Stratton Broke was born on March 15 1913 at Melton, Suffolk, though his childhood was spent at the family farm at Holme Hale, Norfolk. After Eton and Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he read Natural Sciences, Broke joined the Army. He was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1933. Already a keen field sportsman - he had been whipper-in for the Trinity Beagles - he spent a lot of time hunting, shooting and point-to-pointing.
In the summer of 1939 he was in Newfoundland as second-in-command of the Public Schools Exploring Society when events in Europe enforced his early return. On April 1 1940, Broke moved to France to join the British Expeditionary Force, posted to the staff of 12th Division. Of the events of May 20 for which he was awarded his MC, all Broke would ever say was: "It was my first day in action and I was never so stupid ever again."
After evacuation to England in June 1940, 12th Division was disbanded and Broke was posted to Sudan in the rank of major. Here he was appointed "deception officer" by Lieutenant-General Platt who, with 4th and 5th Indian Divisions, was about to invade Eritrea as part of the British offensive against the Italians in East Africa.
Sudan being a difficult place in which to conceal preparations for an offensive, Platt saw the need for elaborate deception measures. Summoning Broke he asked him: "Are you a good liar?" "Well," replied Broke, "I played poker fairly successfully at Cambridge."
Broke's deception plan - sending dhows up and down the Red Sea, laying a railway line from Gedaref towards Gallabat, deploying fake hospitals and dummy tanks, and erecting a pier at a Red Sea port that even the Royal Navy thought was genuine - proved highly effective in masking Platt's real intentions.
After the destruction of the Italian army in East Africa, Broke went west, posted to 7th Armoured Division (the original "Desert Rats").
Broke saw action at El Alamein and later with the American 5th Army in Tunisia, but not before he had been one of the first British officers into Tripoli. Arriving at the best hotel in the city, he took the opportunity of signing the register immediately below the names of the departing German High Command. A photograph of this in the Daily Mail provided the first information Broke's wife and mother had of his whereabouts.
At the end of the North African campaign Broke returned to England and served the remainder of the war at the War Office, for which work he was appointed OBE in 1946.
After the war, Broke served in Egypt, and as an instructor at Sandhurst and the Staff College. From 1955 to 1957, he commanded 6th Field Regiment and after a period in Norway became, in 1959, Commander Royal Artillery of 5th Division, moving to 1st Division the next year.
In 1960 he became Corps Commander Royal Artillery to 1st British Corps. After attending the Imperial Defence College in 1963, he returned to Germany the next year as Major-General Royal Artillery, in command of all British gunners in Germany, and the whole of Northern Army Group's nuclear artillery.
Retiring from the Army in 1966, Broke became a Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery in 1968, and was in 1974-75 Representative Colonel Commandant - first Deputy to the Master Gunner.
In 1966, Broke joined the Board of the Wellman Engineering Corporation (later Wellman plc), later becoming chairman of six companies within the group. He remained with them until 1988, during which time he was twice chairman of the Iron and Steel Plant Contractors' Association and, from 1997 to 1999, president of the Metallurgical Plantmakers' Federation.
After retiring in 1988 he became treasurer of London Appeals for Macmillan Cancer Relief.
Whatever spare time this left him, Broke devoted to the family farm at Holme Hale - where he continued the ringing and recording of birds which he had started as a child - and his local church, St Andrew's, Holme Hale, where as churchwarden he oversaw much restoration work. He was particularly proud of the appointment, as Bishop of Norwich, of Peter Nott, who had once been one of his subalterns.
Broke married, in 1939, Susan Bonsey, who died in 1997; he is survived by their two sons.