News Item

Obituary for a navigator

Sqn Ldr Norman Crookes, who has died aged 91, was hailed the outstanding night fighter navigator of WWII.

He won the Distinguished Flying Cross on 3 occasions as well as an American DFC.

On the night of 29-30 July 1944, he and his NZ pilot, Bill 'Jamie' Jameson, achieved instant celebrity in their Mosquito when they shot down 4 enemy bombers in the space of only 20 minutes - an achievement unequalled by any Allied fighter crew in the NW European theatre, and declared throughout the RAF as the finest night fighting patrol of the war.

In 1941 Crookes joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve, training as a radar navigator before joining 125 Sqn on Beaufighters, which he flew with many successes. In early 1944 he transferred to 488 (NZ) Sqn, flying Mosquitoes and continuing his remarkable record of battle successes.

Ironically, he was declared unfit for peacetime service because he was colour blind, and he returned to civilian life to become a schoolteacher, ultimately becoming Headmaster of William Rhodes Secondary School, Chesterfield - a post he held for 20 years.

Sqn Ldr Crookes had also devoted much time to the Air Training Corps, ultimately becoming Chairman of its East Midlands Wing - for which he was appointed MBE in 1974.

Norman Crookes was born on 23 December 1920 and died on 17 April 2012. For the full fascinating obituary, see The Telegraph link below . .

  • 05 June 2012
  • RIN

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