Gunpowder and Glory
Harry Smee, Henry Macrory
Picture a daredevil combatant, secret agent and brilliant inventor all rolled into one. Such a man was pyrotechnical genius Frank Brock, a scion of the famous firework family and one of Britain’s great, unsung heroes. A remarkable combination of James Bond and ‘Q’, Frank was killed in action one hundred years ago. His story has never been told before, yet he made an extraordinary contribution to the British war effort between 1914 and 1918, saving thousands of lives. Frank could easily have been the template for 007. A heavyweight boxer, rugby player and brilliant shot, he uniquely held commissions in all three branches of the armed services – army, navy and air force – during the First World War. As an inventor he ended Germany’s dream of air supremacy with his pioneering Brock Bullet. A year later he helped prevent German domination of the Channel by inventing giant flares which lit up the sea at night and forced U-boats into deep mine fields. It did not end there. As a secret agent he dashed to France on his wedding day, rowed across a lake into enemy territory, and prepared the ground for the world’s first strategic bombing raid – ordered by Winston Churchill – on a Zeppelin base in southern Germany. Later, as a combatant, he played a leading role in one of the war’s most daring naval raids – a raid only made possible because of the artificial fog heinvented to mask the attacking vessels.
Gunpowder and Glory tells more than Frank’s remarkable story of invention and derring-do. Woven into the narrative is the dazzling history of Brock’s Fireworks, the world-famous firm started by Frank’s five-times great-grandfather, and which he was being groomed to run.
Gunpowder & Glory is an excellent addition . . a beautifully crafted book . . which conveys the huge Brock enterprise . . . and quite rightly includes many of the old photographs, particularly the incredibly convincing heads of famous people. . . . The modern firework displays are fast moving with a larger net explosive content . . . . but more limited in style. As we read about the famous displays at the Crystal Palace and the pleasure that they obviously gave, we must not forget them. * Fireworks Magazine * The style of his death during the Zeebrugge raid in April 1918 is something which reflects the way his lived his life and can be summed up in one word 'extraordinary' * gunmart.net * Accessibly and attractively written . . . a fascinating story of one of the most amazing figures in the history of the Royal Navy and a recommended read. * Navy News * Gunpowder & Glory is a glorious book to read, told at a racing pace and well-illustrated. This is a must read book. * Warships International * A book that reads like fascinating dinner conversation. * The Spectator * "The real life Q and Bond all rolled into one... the first biography of a man whose initials appropriately spelt FAB." * RAF News * A fascinating and engaging biography that will add depth and colour to any Great War Guide's knowledge. * Despatches * A fascinating combination of military and corporate history. This fascinating book does a good job of telling their story. * Baird Maritime * Frank Brock is a hero whose story needs to be told. * The Globe and Laurel * Written in a very readable rollicking style of Wing Commander Frank Brock OBE, a quite extraordinary character who made a unique and special contribution in World War I... It provides a fascinating and at times a gripping read and is certainly well recommended. * Scuttlebutt 12/06/2020 * This very readable book has many connections with the subcontinent, and the story of fireworks and their role as entertainment and spectacle over the centuries is a bonus. * Durbar 09/06/2020 * It is a fascinating story in its own right! This is a great book, easy to read and with much background information useful for wargamers. Brock himself is larger than life and an astonishing figure; strongly recommended. * Miniature Wargames * The first biography of Frank Brock, one of Sutton's most famous residents, has just been published. * Sutton Voice * ..its fascinating dust cover is based on a Brock's poster for the Crystal Palace summer display season of 1909, the fireworks for which were made in the factory on Gander Green Lane. * Past on Glass blog *
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