Serial Number: NZ41
RNZAF Trade: Pilot
Date of Enlistment:January 1941
Rank Achieved: Squadron Leader
Date of Birth: Born on the 22nd of August 1913, at New Plymouth
Personal Details: Known as Owen, he was the fifth son of Mr and Mrs C. Wesley Hooker of Queen Street, Cambridge. He was educated at Hautapu Primary School and Hamilton Technical School . Married to Mrs O. Hooker of Napier. His occupation before the war was Police Constable.
Owen had been in the New Zealand Police in Lyttleton prior to joining the RNZAF. Owen had three brothers also in the Armed Forces, including Kenneth, a machine gunner serving in the Middle East, Howard, who was attached to the 6 th Field Ambulance and formerly a prisoner of war in Italy , and Ray Hooker who was also in the RNZAF.
Service Details: Owen trained in Christchurch , New Zealand, and later completed his operational training in the UK . He left New Zealand in 1941. This report on his farewell from Cambridge was published in the Waikato Independent on Monday the 14th of July 1941.
AIRMEN AND SAILOR
GATHERING AT TOWN HALL
Five Cambridge airmen and one sailor were honoured at the dance arranged by the Cambrdge Inter-Zone Patriotic Committee, and held in the Town Hall on Saturday evening.
They were Pilot-Officer C.O. Hooker, Leading Aircraftmen R.N.H. Jones, L.G. Kelly * and M.F. Dillon, Mr K.C. Ward who is joining the Fleet Air Arm, and Mr J.C. Wilson, who is entering the Navy.
On behalf of the district the Mayor, Mr Edgar James, extended to the guests his sincere appreciation of what they were about to undertake. "We cannot all go as they are going," he said, "but we must measure up to the standard by sacrifice, and prove ourselves worthy of these men."
Mr R. Newcombe, president of the Returned Soldiers' Association, wished the guests of honour the best of luck and every success.
Wallets were presented by the Mayoress, Mrs Edgar James, and Pilot Officer C.O. Hooker returned thanks on behalf of the guests.
Members of the Returned Soldiers' Association were in attendance and formed a guard of honour during the presentation ceremony.
* This and also the newspaper from the 11th of July 1941 noted the name L.G. Kelly. This was in fact Clarence Lloyd Kelly, who was known as Lloyd.
The same farewell was reported on in The New Zealand Observer dated the 23rd of July 1941, under the social page Waikato Doings. It read;
DANCE: A dance was staged recently for several lads in training for the Air Force and Fleet Air Arm. It was a truly successful affair, with presentations to each. An energetic committee was responsible for the evening's entertainment, and included Mrs R.J. Neely, Mrs G.C. Vosper,Mrs Edgar James Mayoress), Mrs W. McLennan, Heather Pierce and Alison Mills, who was over from Hamilton and looked attractive in a frock of black ring velvet.
Owen spent some time based in Malta. He was then attached to the Middle East where he had much combat experience flying Beaufighters with No. 46 Squadron, RAF. According to the Official History book, New Zealanders with the Royal Air Force (Volume III);
"This unit was committed to night defence
of Egypt but crews varied what was now a monotonous routine by
intruder operations over enemy-held islands. Hooker flew many effective sorties and commanded the unit detachment at Tocra which
covered the Aegean."
Paul Turney, Owen's nephew, also recalls that Owen had been Prime Minister Winston Churchill's personal pilot during his flights to meetings around Europe, obviously later in the war.
Connection with Cambridge: Owen Hooker was a Cambridge resident before the war
Waikato Independent reports that mention Owen Hooker
Farewelled with wallet 14 July 1941 (see above)
Promoted to Flying Officer 2 October 1942
Promoted to Squadron Leader 10 November 1943
Returns home 4 December 1944