Recollections and reflections by Patricia Hook



Recollections and reflections by Patricia Hook


These recollections and reflections were written by Patricia Hook, Ken's wife, who was a WAAF in the operations room at RAF Mepal. They are all very similar, concentrating primarily on the Stirling crash in December 1943, where Ken was the only member of the crew to survive and five young children were killed in the crash. Patricia also recalls another accident on 13 March 1944 when returning from a mining operation, again in a Stirling with the mines still on board, the aircraft over ran the runway at Castle Combe, the undercarriage collapsed and the aircraft caught fire and exploded but all the crew survived. Patricia also reflects on wartime events at the time of anniversaries.


Temporal Coverage




Four hand written sheets


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From: Ex. Flying Officer E.P. Hook. W.R.A.F. Lydiard Cottage, Loddiswell, Kingsbridge, S. Devon.

My late husband had a career in the Royal Air Force spanning the ages from 18 until 55. He served both as aircrew and on Air Traffic Control duties. During the war I was employed in Operations/Intelligence on Bomber Command Stations, &, on demobilisation remained on the “Reserve” for ten years.

At a time when there were [underlined] so many [/underlined] incidents to recall I will tell the story of one in particular that remains imprinted on my memory.

On the 1 December 1943 at 2240 hrs in a Stirling aircraft EH 880 from 75 Squadron based at MEPAL near Ely Cambs. as a member of the crew my husband was returning from an operational mission (The aircraft developed a problem and was diverted to R.A.F. ACKLINGTON in Northumberland)

The on-site impression of a policeman serving in the Northern Constabulary was that it was far too low and needed another 30' – 40' in height. Unfortunately this was not achieved and the aircraft crashed on Cliffe House Farm near AMBLE.

Five children aged from one to eleven were killed asleep in their beds in an upstairs bedroom.

Downstairs in the farm at this time the farmer and his wife Mr & Mrs Robson had been entertaining old

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friends, Mr & Mrs Rowell, a butcher from Amble (they had been rolling the bacon of a pig that had been recently slaughtered).

Fire broke out in the wreckage as the bomber hit the house & split it in two. As the occupants escaped from the burning debris they noticed an airman in the field with his clothes ablaze Mr Rowell, regardless of his own safety succeeded in extinguishing the flames by rolling him on the ground.

One of the huge wheels of the A/C was in the sitting room & the stairs had been blown away & yet in a child's cot a baby doll lay unscratched. The Wreckage was open to the sky.

It is very sad to report that the remaining six members of the crew were killed – Mr Rowell received a commendation for saving the airman's life (my future husband).

He suffered very severe burns & other injuries & received dedicated treatment at R.A.F. Hallow.

He returned to operational flying three months later.

It was then on 13 March 44 [inserted] (Monday) [/inserted] when all the pre-activity for D Day was under way that 16 Stirlings were sent from 75Sqdrn to St Nazaire, Torrents & La Rochelle on the Bay of Biscay. My husband's A/C was forced to abandon the operation and returned early with a bomb on board

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and crashed on the edge of Castle Combe the picturesque village in Wilts.

On abandoning the A/C the CO was the only one injured in climbing over a fence during his escape. It was a miraculous escape because shortly afterwards the plane blew up.

My husband was indeed, fortunate to survive 85 bombing missions over enemy territory.
As we approach the 50 Ani of V E Day it is a timely reminder of the gratitude that the “survivors” owe to those service personnel & civilians who were less fortunate.



Patricia Hook, “Recollections and reflections by Patricia Hook,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 19, 2024,

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