THE memories of a RAF war veteran have been compiled in a new book about the history of a Second World War bomber crew.

Researched and written by David Price The Crew: The Story of a Lancaster Bomber Crew is structured around the crew’s last survivor, 95-year-old Ken Cook, a Wing Commander with an Avro Lancaster crew known as 97 Squadron. Originally from Gloucestershire, Ken now resides in Hexham to be closer to his family in Haltwhistle.

The book recounts Ken’s harrowing experiences during some of the 45 night time bombing missions during the war, from the moment he enlisted in RAF Bomber Command at only 19.

“I chose to volunteer for the RAF because I had fond memories in school of being part of the cadets,” said Ken.

“I had to enlist at Lord’s Cricket Ground, and had never been to London before. I remember stepping off at the platform and thinking ‘where the heck do I go from here?’"

The Crew is more than an historical account, however. It is a touching tribute to those in Bomber Command who David describes as being “less fêted” in the public’s memory than other RAF pilots, despite as many as 55,573 aircrew who served in Bomber Command being killed during the war.

Whilst the work and bravery of Bomber Command has been acknowledged in the form of monuments, and even a window at Westminster Abbey, it wasn’t until 70 years after the war that Bomber Command was finally honoured in the form of a memorial at London’s Piccadilly, which Ken went to see unveiled.

Ken explained that some liberal thinkers in post-war Britain were sceptical over Bomber Command’s role in the war, which saw the unit forced to target multiple cities, resulting in high civilian tragedies.

“I’ve never been ashamed to have been in Bomber Command,” Ken said. “I am honoured to have fought for my country, almost proud.”

It was Ken’s efforts to clear the name of Bomber Command aircrew which motivated him to accept David’s request to tell his story to the world, in what will be one of the final eyewitness testimonies to a momentous time in British history.

The book also tells the stories of Ken’s six fellow service men including the pilot and captain, Flying Officer Jim Comans, who Ken recalls was a “a straight talking disciplinarian”.

Ken recalls in The Crew being hit by flak in the skies, the night fighter attacks from Germany which were aimed at hitting the plane’s bomb bay to cause an explosion, and witnessing the bombers being blown up right next to him and his crew.

Despite years of training, in both Britain and overseas in Georgia, USA, Ken said that nothing could have prepared him for his first night time operation.

“I remember that it was a quiet journey. We didn’t say very much, we were too anxious,” he said.

“It was a shock having to fly at night, and suddenly not be part of a training mission as usual.”

The relief when the wheels of the Avro Lancaster plane reached English soil, he said, was “overwhelming.”

As a volunteer for the Pathfinder course, a unit which received specialist training for accurate target marking, Ken signed up for 45 as opposed to the standard 30 operations.

“Finishing that 45th operation and knowing I had made it home for good definitely called for a good drink,” said Ken.

The Crew can be ordered online from