Interview with Fred Hooker
Interview with Fred Hooker
Fred Hooker was a mid-upper gunner on 102 Squadron at RAF Pocklington, where he flew three operations before being shot down. Born in Hartley Wintney in 1924, Fred’s first experience of the RAF was visiting RAF Odiham as a member of the Air Training Corps where he flew in a Tiger Moth and Blenheim. Enlisting in March 1943, Fred‘s initial training was at Lord’s Cricket Ground. Gunnery training was undertaken at RAF Stormy Down where he was introduced to clay pigeon shooting before being flown in Anson aircraft and firing at drones with a camera gun and eventually using ammunition. After qualification, he crewed up at RAF Moreton-in-Marsh before converting to Halifaxes at RAF Dishforth. In August 1944, his crew was posted to 102 Squadron at RAF Pocklington where Fred recalls witnessing a Halifax fail to take off as they arrived. Upon return from their first operation, they were diverted due to bad weather and remained at the diversion airfield for several days so Fred was relieved when they returned as he'd left his dentures at Pocklington. During their third operation, the aircraft failed to reach the briefed height but the crew decided to continue and were hit by either enemy anti-aircraft fire or a bomb dropped from above. Fred describes being captured immediately after abandoning the aircraft and the interrogation that followed. He was transferred to Stalag Luft 7, and the Red Cross supplied him with another set of dentures. Fred provides a graphic account of the conditions during the long march and the overcrowding in Stalag 3A. Upon waking up on the 23rd of April 1945, they discovered the German guards had disappeared. Russian troops arrived later and continued to treat them like prisoners but Fred's group managed to escape and join the nearby Americans. After being transported to Belgium, he was flown home and landed near Guilford. Despite being frustratingly close to home, Fred was taken to RAF Cosford for debriefing. After the war, Fred retrained and spent time travelling across France salvaging abandoned vehicles.
03:02:20 audio recording
IBCC Digital Archive
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Tom Ozel, “Interview with Fred Hooker,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed October 27, 2021, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11121.
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