Section and Sick Quarters Staff RAF Hinaidi 1934

About Leonard Rooks BEM

I’m grateful to Leonard Rooks’ son Len who supplied this information and the photographs within this section.

Born 1909 Taunton, Somerset

Followed his father as wood worker and trained as a cabinet maker.

Left Taunton in 1930’s presumably because of lack of work and joined RAF.

Was posted to Hinaidi, Iraq and served as LAC in Medical Corps.

He set up a darkroom in a backroom somewhere in the hospital and used to process his own and officers films (probably how he got away with it!)

You have the photographs that tell the story until he returned to UK. Spent leave at home in Somerset then was posted to RAF Uxbridge.

Married 1937 and took civilian work at RAF 4MU in Ruislip as a skilled wood worker.

At start of WW2 tried to re enlist in RAF but was classified as in protected occupation so spent the war years in “Dad’s Army” (He loved the TV series, said he could recognise most of the characters from his unit) As a recent serving man he was allocated a rare .22 rifle which he kept at home and had a heavy steel plate practice target in our garden which survived well into my childhood.

As a hobby he used to carve RAF regimental shields which probably still hang in HQ’s all over the country. I can remember spending hours watching him at work, amazing skill.

He was awarded the British Empire Medal in the 1953 honours list, the first of the new Queen’s reign, I believe for services to the realm above and beyond etc.

He stayed at 4MU until the site was transferred to the USAF in the mid 50’s after which he spent a few years working for private companies.

He soon rejoined the government cause by working for the Royal Navy Research Establishment in Hayes where he was involved in model making and prototype work. They did a lot of work there on pre nuclear submarines involving large diesel engines and huge lead acid battery banks. His workshop was alongside the main west country railway line and he used to get me into the site to train spot in comfort! He always seemed to get on well with the officers. He used to do antique furniture repairs and restorations for them in his workshop at home.

I remember one particular project when a Scandinavian company offered a machine to the RN that would allow major engine overhauls to be carried in situ in a submarine instead of removing the engine completely by taking out sections of the engine room hull in dry dock. The RN would not give them access to a working sub so my father built a wooden exact replica hull around a Deltic diesel for them to perform their demonstration.

He stayed with the RN until a late retirement, and died shortly after in 1981.

Len Rooks, November 2020

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