This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981
Claude Cadman Easterbrook (1889-1975), soldier, was born on 25 May 1889 at Maitland, New South Wales, son of Elijah Easterbrook, cabinetmaker, and his wife Bridget, née Lynch, both native-born. His father later became a constable in the New South Wales Police Force and was stationed at Walgett and Murrurundi before moving to the lower Hunter where Claude went to the public schools at Waratah and Hamilton. On leaving school he joined the Postmaster General's Department but in November 1909, after some part-time military service, he enlisted in the Australian Military Forces (permanent staff) as a member of the 4th Infantry Regiment at Wallsend.
Before universal training could begin in 1911 competent instructional staff had to be found. To this end a special school was established at Albury. Among those on the first course in August 1910 was Staff Sergeant Major Easterbrook who in that rank had been appointed to the Australian Administration and Instructional Staff a month before. In January 1911 he returned to Newcastle and the 4th Northern Brigade. He stayed there until 6 October 1914 when he joined the Australian Imperial Force as staff sergeant major, serving briefly with the 6th Light Horse Regiment before going to the 7th. It was as a regimental sergeant major of that unit that he sailed for Egypt on 21 December. Five days earlier, at New Lambton, he had married Vivienne Muriel Nicholson (d.1965) with Methodist forms.
In August 1919 he was back in Australia, a major who had been awarded the Military Cross and was about to receive the Distinguished Service Order and a mention in dispatches. He had been commissioned on Gallipoli in June 1915 and as a lieutenant was in command of the last detachment of the 7th L.H.R. to leave during the final hours of the evacuation. He was promoted captain on 26 March 1916.
After Gallipoli it was Sinai, Palestine and Trans-Jordan for the rest of the war, from Romani to the second action at Amman. Easterbrook served with the 7th L.H.R. until March 1917 when he was appointed staff captain, 2nd Light Horse Brigade. He was wounded at Wadi Ghuzze in April, resumed duty in June and on 5 October was promoted major; he then rejoined the 7th Regiment. Between June and September next year he commanded the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment before being appointed brigade major, 2nd Light Horse Brigade, a post he held until the end of the war. His service was a blend of outstanding regimental and staff soldiering and was widely recognized as such.
When his A.I.F. service ended in October 1919 he reverted to his substantive rank of warrant officer in the A.M.F. In May 1920, on the permanent forces list once more, he became an area officer in Newcastle and adjutant and quartermaster of the 5th Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment. He was now quartermaster and honorary major, a rank he retained on appointment to the Australian Instructional Corps when it was formed in April 1921.
For the greater part of the next twenty years, during which there was to be no further advancement, Easterbrook served with the 1st Cavalry Brigade, the Army Service Corps and as assistant director of supplies and transport, 2nd Military District. In January 1936 he became quartermaster of the Royal Military College which was in its last year of exile in Sydney. He went home with it to Duntroon and stayed there until May 1940 when he was appointed assistant director of supplies and transport at Army Headquarters. Thereafter, as an assistant and then deputy director, he was a lieutenant-colonel and colonel. In 1948 he became chief instructor (R.M.C. Wing) at the Army Service Corps School and then chief instructor of the school itself.
When he retired on 6 September 1949 he was granted the honorary rank of colonel. Survived by his son, a graduate of Duntroon, and three daughters, he died in Melbourne on 8 May 1975 and was cremated with Anglican rites.
In appearance tall and spare (he was the light horseman of the picture books), in manner modest and unassuming, in standard of behaviour uncompromising, in character forthright, he was representative of the best in the Light Horse and later in the Australian Instructional Corps. Never one to force advice on others he gave it generously when asked. Young men making their way in the corps remembered it and were grateful. So too were those Duntroon cadets perceptive enough to realize that here was someone who on active service had been, and patently still was, the officer they hoped sometime to be. No one would have been more embarrassed than Claude Easterbrook to have heard that said.
G. D. Solomon, 'Easterbrook, Claude Cadman (1889–1975)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/easterbrook-claude-cadman-6081/text10415, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 2 May 2016.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981