The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. A H Rook
Anthony Hartwell Rook was born on 4th September 1912 in Nottingham and educated at Brighton College. He was then employed by Skinner & Rook, merchants.
Rook joined 504 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force in early 1937.
He was called to full-time service on 24th August 1939 and was serving with 504 in France from 10th May to 22nd May 1940 when it reinforced squadrons there.
On 27th September Rook claimed a Me110 destroyed and shared another. He took command of 504 on 14th March 1941. In late July Rook took 'A' Flight to Leconfield, where it was expanded to squadron strength and became 81 Squadron, with himself as CO.
The squadron embarked in HMS Argus on 12th August, bound for Russia. On 1st September it flew its Hurricanes off to Vaenga airfield near Murmansk.
Operating with 134 Squadron, together forming 151 Wing, the squadron flew patrols and escorted Russian bombers until 20th November when its pilots began converting Russian pilots on to Hurricanes. Leaving all its aircraft and equipment behind, the squadron left Russia on 29th November in HMS Kenya and landed at Rosyth on 7th December 1941.
The squadron then went to Turnhouse to re-equip. Rook was posted away in January 1942. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 3rd March 1942) and the Order of Lenin (gazetted 31st March 1942), one of four given by the Russians.
He married Deborah Todd on 11th July 1942.
For services at 57 OTU, Rook was awarded the AFC (gazetted 8th June 1944). He was released from the RAF in 1945 as a Wing Commander.
When 504 was reformed as a Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadron in May 1946 Rook was given command and led it until 1948.
He died on 8th August 1976 in Evesham.
He was a cousin of F/O Michael Rook, who also served in 504 and 134 Squadrons.