Lieutenant Colonel Edward James Augustus Howard Brush DSO CB OBE, known as Peter, (5 March 1901 – 22 July 1984) was a Northern Irish unionist politician and paramilitary leader. In later life Brush was also known by the nickname "Basil", as a joke based on the television puppet Basil Brush.
Brush was born in Fermoy, County Cork, the son of Major George Howard Brush and May Florence Farrell. Educated at Clifton College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Brush spent his early teenage years at his father's citrus plantation in Canada, later returning to Drumnabreeze House, Magheralin, County Down. He had a distinguished career in the British Army and during the Second World War he was wounded in France in 1940 before being held as a prisoner of war for three years. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his actions during the defence of Calais in 1940. By the time he retired from the army he had reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Settling in County Down he took up farming but remained involved in military activity with the Territorial Army. He also served as deputy Lord Lieutenant of Down until resigning from the position in 1974.
Brush first received public attention in 1973 when stories appeared in the press that he had been drilling his own right-wing loyalist private militia force. Claiming 5,000 members, the group, known as Down Orange Welfare, became involved in the Ulster Workers' Council strike of 1974, with Brush taking a leading role in planning the stoppage as a member of the Ulster Workers' Council's Co-ordinating Committee. Brush was also president of the South Down Ulster Unionist Party Association and represented the constituency in the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention. He left the public eye after a second less successful loyalist strike in 1977.
In 1935 he married Susan Mary Torbett; they had one daughter, Maureen Rosemary Brush, who was born in 1940. He died, aged 83, in Dublin.
- Ian S. Wood, Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA, Edinburgh University Press, 2006, p. 34
- "Clifton College Register" Muirhead, J.A.O. p340: Bristol; J.W Arrowsmith for Old Cliftonian Society; April, 1948
- W.D. Flackes & Sydney Elliott, Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1993, The Blackstaff Press, 1994, p. 107
- Peter Barberis, John McHugh, Mike Tyldesley, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations: Parties, Groups and Movements of the 20th century, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2000, p. 213
- Ciarán Ó Maoláin, The Radical Right: A World Directory, Longman, 1987, p. 334
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