Spitfire Pilot: A Personal Account of the Battle of Britain
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1939. The battle for the skies of Britain has just begun.
At the outbreak of the Second World War D. M. Crook, of No. 609 Squadron AAF, was at Yeadon, still undergoing his training; by the winter of 1939-40, he had his wings.
Successfully applying to return to his Squadron, then on defence duties in northern England, Crook began to familiarise himself with their new fighter: the Spitfire.
Soon they were posted to RAF Northolt, and it was at this time that Crook, much to his chagrin, was left grounded, undergoing knee surgery as they flew over Dunkirk.
Following the Allied evacuation from France, Crook returned to the air and found himself facing the relentless sorties as the skies above Britain transformed into a battlefield.
In one particularly frank passage, Crook recounts how he mistakenly shot down a Blenheim, going on to illustrate how easy it was for pilots to misidentify aircraft.
‘Spitfire Pilot’ is a remarkable account of one officer’s life in 609 Squadron, the excitement, the anxieties and the camaraderie, during one of the most famous battles of the Second World War.
‘Crook and his colleagues committed acts of unimaginable bravery against the German aircraft. Many did not make it and the author describes the ansence they leave in the squadron with great poignancy. His descriptions of aerial conflict will rarely be bettered.’ Magazine
'A brilliant first-hand account of the life of a fighter pilot before and during the Battle of Britain.' Spectator
'A unique personal insight into one of the crucial periods of the war ... I cannot recommend this highly enough.' World War II Magazine
Flt. Lt. David Moore Crook, D.F.C. (1914-1944) was commissioned into the Auxiliary Air Force in September 1938, as an Acting Pilot Officer. In May 1940 he was promoted Pilot Officer, in December of the same year Flight Officer, before reaching the rank of Flight Lieutenant a year later. One of ‘The Few’ who fought in the Battle of Britain, where he won the D.F.C., in December 1944 he failed to return to base: his Spitfire was reported to have dived into the sea. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
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friends and he was an inspiration to all of us at a time when it was so easy to get downhearted. It was a terrible waste that he should have been killed in the way he was, having been through so much during the Battle of Britain. Even today, so many years after, I remember him very vividly and perhaps the best way to finish these few reminiscences is to say that he was certainly one of the best of his generation. My mother has often talked of how much my father appreciated the support of the
tough, and certainly rather good-looking with his black hair and flashing eyes. Red was very tall and lanky, and possessed the most casual manner and general outlook on life that I ever saw. I don’t believe he ever batted an eyelid about anything, except possibly the increasing difficulty of getting his favourite ‘rye high’. After a fight he never showed the slightest trace of excitement, and I remember that after one afternoon’s fairly concentrated bombing of the aerodrome, during which a
fraction of a second. Finally, after a dive even faster than before, he zoomed up almost vertically for 2,000 feet, going straight into the sun in an effort to shake me off that way. Almost completely dazzled, I managed nevertheless to follow him up and when he did a stall turn at the top I got another quick burst at him without apparent effect. At the top of the zoom I rolled over on to my back, but the recoil of the guns practically stalled me and I hung there for a second upside down and
seventy-five miles away, seemed to be just under my wing-tip. But I can’t say that I appreciated this superb view very much under the circumstances, because I was busily engaged behind the squadron, anxiously scanning the sky for the Messerschmidts which we knew would soon be arriving. The sun was so brilliant and dazzling that it was very difficult to see anything clearly in the glare, and yet this made it even more important to maintain the utmost vigilance, as the Me. 109s are very good at
undercarriage) on the mud flats at Ipswich nearly 130 miles away. There was no crew in the Dornier and they could not be found. So everybody at Ipswich was saying, ‘Where are the crew for this aeroplane?’ and everybody at Shaftesbury was saying, ‘Where is the aeroplane for this crew?’ The puzzle was soon solved, but it is an amazing story. The bomber had left its base near Cherbourg en route for a raid on Liverpool and was flying up the west country in very bad weather when it ran into a heavy