The Airmen's Stories - F/O M Rook
Michael Rook was born in October 1915 in Edwalton, Nottinghamshire.
He attended Uppingham School from 1929 to 1933 and married Joan Corah in November 1936 at Queninborough Church, Leicestershire.
Rook joined 504 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force in 1938. Called to full-time service on 24th August 1939, Rook completed his training and arrived at 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 28th April 1940.
After converting to Hurricanes he was posted to RAF Uxbridge on 15th May for allocation to a squadron in France. He joined 504 Squadron there a few days later and returned to England with it on the 22nd.
On 15th September 1940 Rook shared in the destruction of a Do17, on the 27th he claimed a Me110 destroyed and probably a second and on 6th October he shared a Me109.
He was with 504 until posted away in July 1941 to 134 Squadron, then forming at Leconfield, as a Flight Commander.
504 Squadron Exeter 1941:
Sgt. Boreham, P/O Lee, Sgt. D Haywood, F/O M Rook, P/O Hunt, F/O Salter, Sgt. Waud, Sgt. Nurse, Sgt. Lewis
Sgt. Holmes, MO*, F/O B White, S/Ldr. J Sample, F/Lt. A Rook, F/Lt. A Parsons, F/O Barnes, F/O Clennell (Adj.)
The squadron embarked in HMS Argus on 12th August, bound for Russia. It flew its Hurricanes off on 1st September to Vaenga airfield near Murmansk. The squadron operated with 81 Squadron, forming 151 Wing. Rook destroyed a Me109 on 27th September.
The Wing continued its operations, including bomber-escorts, until mid-November when pilots of 134 began converting Russian pilots on to Hurricanes. The squadron left Russia on 29th November, leaving all equipment behind and returned in HMS Kenya. They landed at Rosyth on 7th December 1941 and then went to Catterick to re-equip.
Rook took command of 43 Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey in September 1942. On 19th October the pilots went to Greenock and sailed in the SS Ashland for Gibraltar, from where at dawn on 8th November they took off for North Africa, landing soon after 10am at Maison Blanche, the first RAF aircraft to land there.
Awarded the DFC (gazetted 16th February 1943), Rook was posted away on 9th August 1943 to a staff job in Egypt. Some sources say he destroyed three enemy aircraft in the Mediterranean area.
He stayed in the RAF postwar but was killed in a flying accident on 13th March 1948. Mosquito T Mk. 3 VP345 crashed inverted and burst into flames whilst attempting to turn back to RAF Hucknall following an engine failure on take off. F/Lt. RM Boyle was also killed.
Rook is buried in Edwalton Parish Church, Nottingham.
The inscription reads:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MICHAEL ROOK (R.A.A.F)
BELOVED HUSBAND OF JOAN
FATHER OF SUZY & MICHAEL
KILLED ON ACTIVE SERVICE
MARCH 13TH 1948
AGED 32 YEARS
THROUGH GLORY TO THE STARS