Flight Lieutenant Thomas Spoors Cook DFM
Flight Lieutenant Tom Cook was an Air Gunner completing a full tour with 61 Squadron on Hampdens, Manchesters and Lancaster. Interspersed with instructor duties he completed further operations with an OTU, 49 Squadron and finally 617 Squadron, finally completing 61 operations in total. A remarkable man who's story needs to be told.
Born 1920 Durham.
The first Log book entry shows him at RAF Driffield, training on Fairy Battle aircraft. This was from 12th to 21st December 1940. Then he was posted for operational duties to A Flight 61 Squadron at RAF Hemswell. His first trip there was on 4th February 1941 in a Hampden. This was his only trip in Hampden at that time as he then went onto the Avro Manchester with his first trip on that aircraft on 6th April 1941. Many hours were spent on training flights eventually moving to RAF Luffenham with 61 Sqn. On 17th July 1941. Training continued here until his first op on 6th August 1941. His main position in the crew was Rear Gunner.
Tom summarised his log book at the end of his flying and the above is the first page if his summary. All the trips shown are with 61 Squadron. It was at this stage that he became part of the crew of Pilot Officer Gilpin who he was to fly many operations with. As can be seen during this time he flew operations in Hampden, Manchester and Lancaster aircraft. It can be seen at this time that Gilpin went from P/O to Flying Officer. The latter part of his Hampden ops from RAF Woolfox. He spent more than three months converting to the Manchester, between September 1941 and January 1942.
Following his Operations on the Manchester the Squadron moved to RAF Syerston in May 1942 to replace the Manchester with the Lancaster as can be seen on his summary, at this time flying with Flight Sergeant Stewart who he also did a lot of trips with.
This second page of his summary shows further operations with 61 Squadron. The last trip with 61 Squadron was on 31st July 1942. He then moved to RAF Waddington to 44 Squadron Conversion Flight, he did two operations with this flight with F/O Doble DFC and crew on 13th and 16th September 1942. It became 1661 Conversion Flight and was moved to RAF Winthorpe where he did one operation with Flt Lt Oakley DFC BEM. Following this he was posted back to 61 Squadron at Syerston in February 1943, where he renewed his aquaintance with the now Flight Lieutenant Gilpin. He flew six more operations from Syerston, then he was posted to 49 Squadron at RAF Fiskerton, still with the now Squadron Leader Gilpin DFC. It was during this period with Gilpin that the now Flight Sergeant Tom Cook was awarded his DFM, which was gazetted on 14th May 1943.
This third page of his summary shows him flying with various skippers with 49 Squadron up until his last trip with 49 Squadron on 3rd October 1943 with Flt Lt Munro, who was one of the pilots who flew on the Dams Raid with 617 Squadron. It was on this same date that he was promoted to Flying Officer. A break in operations saw him posted to RAF Skellingthorpe on 1485 Bombing & Gunnery Flight, this from October 1943 until March 1944 when he was sent to RAF Wigsley to join 1690 Bomber Defence Training Flight again as instructor until September 1944 when Tom was sent to RAF Woodhall Spa to join 617 Squadron where he flew his last five operations, with Flt Lt Marshall, at that time as Mid Upper Gunner. It was following this on the 3rd April 1945 that he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant.
The next entry in his log book shows him flying as passenger in a Dakota on 16th March 1946 to India. From here he flew in a Liberator to Mauripor, Shaibah (Iraq), Lydda (Palestine), Castel Benito (N Africa), Istres (France), flying back to RAF Oakington on 23rd March 1946.
Being demobbed on 24th March 1946.
He subsequently worked for the National Coal Board after the war and was a district commissioner for the Scouting movement.
He passed away in 1985. His widow, Joyce, passed away April 2015 aged 93 years.