Robin Brook

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameRalph Ellis "Robin"•Brook
Used nameRobin•Brook
Born19 June 1908 in Southwark, England (GBR)
Died25 October 1998 in Westminster, England (GBR)
NOC Great Britain


The son of a Harley Street doctor, Robin Brook was born Ralph Ellis Brook, but dropped his two forenames in favour of Robin. Educated at Eton College, he won a scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge, where he took a double first in economics. At Cambridge, he won a half-blue at fencing, and that was to be the beginning of a successful fencing career. Brook was appointed captain of the British sabre team in 1933, and they finished third at the European Championships that year. He was the British sabre champion in 1936, and competed at the Berlin Olympics, where he refused to salute, or march past, Hitler. Brook competed in his second Olympics at London in 1948.

During World War II, Brook worked for the Ministry of Economic Warfare, before transferring to the Special Operations Executive (SOE), where he worked behind enemy lines, engaging in what became known as a “secret war”, working on SOE intelligence. In 1944 he worked alongside General Eisenhower at Supreme Allied Headquarters. In the latter part of the War, Brook joined the British Rhine Army and served as a brigadier. Having previously been mentioned in dispatches, he was honoured with the OBE in 1945, as well as receiving most of the leading overseas awards, including the French and Belgium Croix de Guerre, the French Légion d’Honneur and the American Legion of Honour.

In 1946 Brook was appointed a director of the newly nationalised Bank of England at the age of 37. At the same time, he also worked for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), until the late 1950s. He served on many committees and was president of the London Chamber of Commerce between 1966-72. He was knighted in 1974 for his services to industry, and between 1975-78 was chairman of the Sports Council. Margaret Thatcher consulted Brook prior to Britain withdrawing from the 1980 Olympics

Brook was a connoisseur of wines and 20th century paintings, and was a good bridge player. His wife Helen was the founder of the famous Brook Advisory Centres in 1964 that were established to help young people prevent unwanted pregnancies.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1936 Summer Olympics Fencing GBR Robin Brook
Sabre, Individual, Men (Olympic) 5 p6 r2/4
Sabre, Team, Men (Olympic) Great Britain 3 p2 r2/4
1948 Summer Olympics Fencing GBR Robin Brook
Sabre, Individual, Men (Olympic) =5 p4 r2/4
Sabre, Team, Men (Olympic) Great Britain 3 p2 r2/4

Special Notes