Flight Lieutenant Dr John S Cook MB. CH. BD. TMH. DFC
Flight Lieutenant John Cook Observer/Nav. B.
Dr John S.Cook was born in Findochty, Banffshire on the Moray Coast of Scotland .
Brought up and went to school in Dundee.
Attended Clepington and Stobwell Schools operated by the education department of the town council.
Left school at 14.
He volunteered for the Royal Air Force on his 18th birthday.
After serving in the Air Training Corps, he was called up on his 19th birthday.
Enlisted at the RAF reception centre at St Johns Woods, London.
He did his initial training at RAF Shawbury L.T.W. and then at RAF Eastbourne before proceeding to No. 44 Air School at Grahamstown, South Africa.
On his return to the UK in January 1943 he reported to RAF Upper Heyford Operational Training Unit. It was there that he joined Sergeant Dick Willsher's crew.
After completing the O.T.U. course they moved to RAF Winthorpe for Heavy Conversion Unit Training.
In June 1943 P/O Willsher and crew joined 61 Squadron at RAF Syerston.
After completing 9 trips with Willsher's crew he unfortunately broke a leg . By the time that he was fit to return to flying duties he had lost his place in Willsher's crew. From then on he completed a number of trips with different crews before becoming a permanent member of F/Lt Norman Turner's crew.
He replaced Reg Freeth who had been declared medically unfit for flying duties.
On the 7 May 1944 F/Lt Turner and other members completed their tour.
John still had 6 trips to complete his tour, so for a second time he found himself without a crew. On this occasion finding another crew entailed changing squadrons.
He left 61 to join 207 Squadron to become a member of Wing Commander John Gray's crew.
W/C Gray being the Commanding Officer of 207 at that time.
After completing his tour Dr Cook was awarded the 'DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS'.
He then moved to RAF Syerston to carry out a period of instructing.
During January 1945 he became part of a newly formed crew of Syerston instructors, after which they were posted to 617. The specialist Squadron.
With the war in Europe coming to an end a new Bomber Force was formed to take on the Japs in the Far East, it was called Tiger Force. 617 became part of this force and was quickly moved to a base in India. He remained with 617 until it returned to the UK in May 1946 after which he was demobilised.
After leaving the RAF he studied to gain University entrance and in September 1948 went to Medical School in St Andrews and graduated January 1955.
He then studied Tropical Medicine at the School of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool gaining the Diploma before setting off to Africa to serve the required pre-registration hospital posts.
Dr Cook has been a lifelong Salvationist and served as a missionary doctor with the Salvation Army in Central Africa, Northern & Southern Rhodesia; now known as Zimbabwe, and Zambia until January 1978.
In December 1952 he married Gwen, a school teacher. They had four children, three of whom were born in Africa.
On returning to the UK in 1978 he served in General Practice and at Guys Hospital in London until he retired in 1988.
After retiring from Medical Practice he moved to Eastbourne. He remained there for the rest of his life.
He renewed his association with 61 Squadron by joining the 50/61 Squadrons Association in 1996 when he was privileged to meet the crew he had flown with on 61 during 1943/44.
His wife Gwen was happy to attend reunions with John to meet up with his ex-crew members and their wives. Sadly she passed away in March 2002.