1853-27 Jun 1860
An 1853 Pattern Cavalry Troopers sword. It has a three barred iron guard and a leather grip which is riveted to the blade. " MOLE " is marked on the back of the blade.
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The small party led by Brooke was isolated during the pursuit and decimated by the attack from Māori. They were pursued into swampy ground near the Waitara River or on the Waitara River flats where Lieutenant Brooke, a “somewhat stout heavily built” man, became stuck. Some contemporary newspaper sources reported he “sold his life dearly, and fell only when his sword arm was helplessly wounded” while another concluded he had “carved his name on the immemorial tablet sacred to the memory of the Brave.” Other witnesses close to the action, who related their stories to historian William Henry Skinner years after the battle, paint a less glorious picture.
George Stockman, who was in the party led by Brooke, said he was the only one left with him when Brooke, “ went in to his breast in the bog. Seeing he was helpless he turned and throwing his sword (some Natives say he handed it to them) to the Natives as a token of surrender he awaited his fate. This was not long in coming, Hetana of the Waikato tribe rushed in and drove his tomahawk into the defenceless man's skull. The crunch and thud is in my ears to this day. As I turned into the swamp I heard a second blow and then I saw and remembered nothing more…”
John Carey, of the 40th Regiment described Brooke as an officious disciplinarian who it seemed “was not in favour with the men”. According to Carey when Brooke ordered the remnants of his party to form “a solid square” around him to make a stand, a Private responded ‘Solid square be d____, it’s every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost” before the men scattered in panic.
Orima Pehopeho, who was part of the Māori party who pursued Brooke said when they came upon him he was stuck in the mud and slush and two of his men were trying to pull him free. His sword was also stuck deep in the mud with its handguard pointing away from him. As the Māori approached Brooke drew the sword, passed the point under his arm and presented it to the Māori saying “If you spare my life I will give you all I possess”. The Māori then argued about his fate before Manihera advanced and shot him in the neck with both barrels of a flintlock pistol. While Pehopeho said other Māori then tended his wound and tried to make him comfortable he died “some four hours” later.
The sword was given to Skinner at Purangi years later and he deposited it in Taranaki Museum. Skinner described it as “the most valued trophy taken by the Maoris in the war of 1860-61”. A memorial to Brooke is located in Mclean Street in Waitara. See: http://ketenewplymouth.peoplesnetworknz.info/war_memorials_taranaki_wars/topics/show/293-lieut-brooke-and-40th-regiment-memorial