Gunpowder & Glory

The Explosive Life of Frank Brock OBE

Harry Smee, Henry Macrory

The previously untold story of Frank Brock - a remarkable forerunner of James Bond and ‘Q' combined - and his extraordinary contribution to the British war effort between 1914 and 1918 as an inventor, secret agent and combatant.
Date Published :
April 2020
Publisher :
Contributor(s) :
Lord Ashcroft
Illustration :
ca. 70 images
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781612008448
Pages : 272
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
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Frank Brock only lived to be 33. Nonetheless, he did more in that short life than most men could accomplish in several. The hottest fires burn most quickly and here was a man who burned brightly, extinguished in a blaze of glory.
The scion of the world-famous Brock Fireworks was killed in action in Belgium during the most daring British raid of WWI, with a cutlass in one hand and a revolver in the other.
Picture a daredevil combatant, elite athlete, secret agent and brilliant inventor all rolled into a precocious boy raised in a fireworks family that allowed him to become a pyrotechnical genius. There you have Frank Brock - remarkable combination of James Bond, Thomas Edison, Indiana Jones, and MacGyver. Gunpowder and Glory is the first-ever biography of Brock, an unheralded hero of WWI whose contribution to the war effort saved tens of thousands of lives and helped to end The Great War.
Frank could easily have been the template for 007. He was:
· A heavyweight boxer and powerhouse rugby player
· An expert marksman and oarsman
· A first-rate pilot
· Commissioned in all three branches of the armed services – army, navy, and air force – in WWI
· An inventor who ended Germany’s dream of air supremacy with his pioneering Brock Bullet.
· Ingenious and he helped prevent German domination of the English Channel by inventing Dover Flares which lit up the sea at night and forced U-boats into deep mine fields.
Still, his exploits did not end there. As a secret agent Brock dashed to France on his wedding day, snuck into Switzerland, rowed across Lake Constance into enemy territory, and orchestrated the world’s first strategic bombing raid – ordered by Winston Churchill himself – at the zeppelin factory in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Lastly, on the day of his untimely death, he led the charge in a surprise naval attack only made possible by the artificial fog he invented to mask their daring approach.

Co-authored by his grandson, Gunpowder and Glory tells more than Brock’s amazing life of invention and heroism. Woven into the narrative is the dazzling history of C.T. Brock & Company Fireworks, the world-famous firm started by Frank’s five-times great-grandfather.

About The Author

Harry Smee is the grandson of Frank Brock. He was a director of Brock's Fireworks.

Henry Macrory was deputy editor and acting editor of the Sunday Express. He moved from newspapers into political communications and worked in 10 Downing Street for the Coalition Government.


Chapter 1: Come on, you Boys
Chapter 2: A Whiff of Black Powder
Chapter 3: Fireworks in their Blood
Chapter 4: Taking the Palace by Storm
Chapter 5: The Shakespeare of Pyrotechnics
Chapter 6: Whatever you are, be Brave Boys!
Chapter 7: Pomp and Circumstance
Chapter 8: A Carpet of Violets
Chapter 9: Monsters of the Sky
Chapter 10: Seeking the Holy Grail
Chapter 11: The Magic Bullet
Chapter 12: Father of Invention
Chapter 13: Striking the Viper’s Nest
Chapter 14: Brock of the Mole
Chapter 15: The Finest Feat
Chapter 16: Brock’s Benefit


“The real life Q and Bond all rolled into one...Authors Harry Smee, Brock’s grandson and former acting editor of the Sunday Express Henry Macrory don’t disappoint in Gunpowder & Glory, the first biography of a man whose initials appropriately spelt FAB.”

- RAF News

"Smee and Macrory present a well-written book that illuminates the actions on the British home front during the Great War and what it means for a soldier to sacrifice all. Highly recommended for Anglophiles and those interested in World War I history."

- Library Journal

"Gunpowder and Glory is not a ‘literary’ work, by which I mean it is neither selfconscious nor overwrought. Instead, Henry Macrory (who anyway has already proved his literary chops with his 2018 biography of the swindler Whitaker Wright) has opted for what looks like a very light touch here, assembling and ordering the anecdotes and reflections of Brock’s grandson Harry Smee about his family, their business as pyrotechnical artists and, finally, about Frank, his illustrious forebear."

- The Spectator

"Gunpowder & Glory is a glorious book to read, told at a racing pace and well-illustrated. This is a must-read book."

- Warships International

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