Retired Army Lt. Gen. Edward H. Brooks, 85, a former Army assistant chief of staff and a decorated combat veteran of both World Wars, died of cerebral vascular sclerosis Tuesday in a Concord, N.H., nursing home.
He was named assistant chief of staff for personnel (G-1) in 1949, then served as commanding general of the 2nd Army at Fort Meade, Md., from 1951 until retiring in 1953.
Gen. Brooks was chief of the statistics branch of the old War Department General Staff in September 1941, when Gen. Jacob L. Devers requested that he be named to the staff of the new armored force being formed at Fort Knox, Ky.
An artillery officer in World War I, Gen. Brooks helped develop mobile artillery units for the new armored divisions being formed.
He also helped adapt the 105 mm gun as an antitank weapon.
He earned the Legion of Merit for his work on the general staff and was awarded an oak leaf cluster for his work in adapting artillery weapons for armored use.
In 1944, he was named commander of the 2nd Armored Division ("Hell On Wheels") and led that elite unit into Normandy. The division was prominent in the break-through at St. Lo, crossed the Rhine, and was said to have been the first Allied division to enter Belgium.
Gen. Brooks was awarded a Silver Star for repeatedly attacking enemy positions along his line and for the rapid commitment of his division against the enemy. He was cited for "personal gallantry and leadership."
Later in the war he rose to the command of VI Corps and its nearly 150,000 men. On May 5, 1945, he accepted the surrender of the German 19th Army at Innsbruck, Austria.
Gen. Brooks began his Army career in 1915 as a cavalry officer in the Vermont National Guard. During World War I, he served as an artillery officer in France where he saw action at Chateau Thierryp, St. Mihiel and on the Aisne-Marne.
During the Meuse-Argonne campaign, he earned a Distinguished Service Cross when he ". . . exposed himself to heavy and accurate artillery fire directed on an ammunition train while driving a loaded ammunition truck to safety, the driver of which had been killed by enemy fire."
After World War I, he served for a time with American occupation forces in Germany, had a tour of duty in the Philippines, and taught military science and tactics at Harvard University and the Army's Command and General Staff School.
His other decorations included the Bronze Star, an oak leaf cluster for the Silver Star, and medals from five foreign governments.
Gen. Brooks was a native of Concord, N.H. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Norwich University in Vermont, and a doctoral degree in military science from Pennsylvania Military College.
He was a member of the Society of the Cincinnati and the Association of the U.S. Army.
Survivors include his wife, Beatrice L. of the home in Concord; a daughter, Elizabeth B. Campbell of Melvin Village, N.H.; four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.