Paul Crook was educated at Uppingham School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge where he gained a Master of Arts Degree. He was commissioned into the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment in 1935 serving in India and later Palestine, during the Arab revolt. At the outbreak of war he was Adjutant of QORWK’s Depot in Maidstone and saw war service in Africa, Normandy, Burma, Singapore and Netherlands East Indies.
After a tour as an Instructor at the Staff College Camberley he rejoined his Regiment and served with it during the Emergency in Malaya and later in Germany. In 1954 he was selected to command a Parachute Battalion and underwent parachute training.
He commanded 3 PARA in Aldershot and Cyprus and, on November 5th 1956, led them in the airborne assault on El Gamil airfield, as part of Operation Musketeer. Eighteen Valetta and seven Hastings transport aircraft enabled 668 paratroopers of Paul Crook’s battalion to be crammed in for the attack. The drop zone was on a narrow coastal strip bounded by the Mediterranean to the north and Lake El Manzala to the south immediately to the west of Port Said and there was scant margin for errors. To date, this has been the last occasion when British airborne forces have performed a massed parachute drop in action.
He went on to command the Army's Airborne Training and Development Centre where amongst other projects he was responsible for a new parachute.
Paul Crook was advanced to CBE at the end of a three-year tour as Commander and Chief of Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force. A move to Aden as Security Operations Adviser to the High Commissioner was then followed by a final assignment as Commander Rhine Area. He retired from the Army in 1971 in the rank of Brigadier.
He maintained close links with the Parachute Regiment both through the Territorial Army and Regimental Association. He was Honorary Colonel 16 (Lincoln) Independent Parachute Regiment (TA) from 1974 to 1979; Deputy Honorary Colonel 15th (Scottish) Parachute Battalion (TA) from 1979 until 1983 and 4th (Volunteer) Parachute Battalion, 1984 to 1985.
Paul Crook, Came the Dawn: 50 Years an Army Officer, (1989) Spellmount Ltd.
Profile compiled for ParaData by Harvey GrenvilleRead More