Valton William James CROOK MiD (1942)

CROOK, Valton William James

Service Number: 450013
Enlisted: 15 January 1940
Last Rank: Warrant Officer
Last Unit: Aircrew Training Units
Born: Orange, New South Wales, 11 May 1913
Home Town: Orange, Orange Municipality, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Roof Tiler
Died: Drowned, Hawkesbury River, New South Wales, 22 December 1950, aged 37 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
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World War 2 Service

15 Jan 1940: Enlisted Unspecified New Zealand Army Units
26 Jul 1940: Involvement Royal Air Force (WW2), Sergeant, Air War NW Europe 1939-45
5 Apr 1941: Involvement Royal Air Force (WW2), Sergeant, No. 37 Squadron (RAF), Middle East / Mediterranean Theatre
26 Jun 1942: Involvement Royal Air Force (WW2), Sergeant, No. 160 Squadron (RAF), Middle East / Mediterranean Theatre
11 Jun 1944: Transferred Royal Australian Air Force, Warrant Officer, Aircrew Training Units, Air Armament & Gunnery School Nhill Vic
17 Jul 1945: Discharged Royal Australian Air Force, Warrant Officer, SN 450013, Aircrew Training Units

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Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

Valton William James CROOK - Battle of Britain (1913-1950)

Valton William James Crook was born in Orange, New South Wales, Australia on 11th May 1913 and worked as a roof tiler. He went to New Zealand in 1937 to take part in a Government Building Scheme. After the outbreak of war he volunteered for aircrew duties and began his ground training at Weraroa on 15th January 1940.

After a Lewis gunnery course at the Air Observers' School, Ohakea, he sailed for the UK in the SS Akaroa on 23rd March. Crook was at Uxbridge for a month before being posted to 264 Squadron at Duxford for further training.

On 26th July 1940 he was sent to 5 OTU Aston Down where he was awarded his Air Gunner badge and promoted to Sergeant. He then rejoined 264 Squadron.

No. 264 Squadron was equipped with the Boulton Paul Defiant, and Crook was a turret gunner - a particularly unenviable role as the Defiant's measure was very quickly taken by the German Bf109 fighters.  No. 264 Squadron was relegated to a night fighter role but without Airborne Interception radar at that time they were only marginally effective.

Posted away on 20th March 1941, Crook went to 3 Group Training Flight at Stradishall, leaving there for the Middle East in early April. He joined 37 Squadron at Shallufa, Egypt to fly in Wellington bombers. In June Crook's aircraft was shot down into the sea and he was not picked up for 38 hours.

With his tour completed in early September 1941, Crook returned to the UK and went to HQ 25 Group at Stormy Down as an instructor.

He received a Mention in Despatches (gazetted 1st January 1942). After a course at CGS Sutton Bridge he was posted to 7 AGS Manby as an instructor. In late June 1942 Crook went to 1653 Conversion Unit at Polebrook and after a month moved to the Aircrew Pool at Snaith. With his crew he flew from Lyneham in a Liberator to join 160 Squadron at Aqir, Palestine. The squadron later moved to Egypt and in January 1943 became part of 178 Squadron at Shandur.

Crook completed his third tour in June 1943, returned to the UK and was repatriated to New Zealand in September. He was serving with No. 1 (RNZAF) Squadron at Whenuapai in early 1944 but transferred to the RAAF and left for Melbourne in June.  He was posted to the Air Armament and Gas School at Nhill in Victoria.

He was discharged in mid-July 1945 as a Warrant Officer, possibly for medical reasons.

On 22nd December 1950 Crook drowned in the Hawkesbury River, NSW in unknown circumstances.

Battle of Britain London Monument (edits and addition of RAAF service info. Ed)