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5347440 Pte Crook R.A.

Reg Crook came to this area before the war from South Wales together with his mother and stepfather. His stepfather was Edward Stokes, a bricklayer, who lived first at Pitt Cottage, Lambourn Woodlands and then 12 Back Lane, Hungerford Newtown.

After leaving school Reg worked on a local farm until, at the age of seventeen, he joined the Army, serving with the Royal Berkshire Regiment. Little is known about his short army life, other than he served with the 2nd Battalion in the Burma campaign.

At the beginning of 1945 the battalion had crossed the Irrawaddy River, north of Shwebo. By 2 March they had advanced to Shwegon, about 20 miles north of Mandalay. Although they were aided by medium tanks, very heavy fighting took place for every yard gained, the Japanese not giving any ground without causing heavy losses to the British Forces. It was during one of these attacks on 5 March 1945 that Pte Reg Crook was killed.

The following is from a letter sent to me by a former member of the same unit, Mr G Kingham of Slough, to whom I am most grateful.

He says: "…This information comes from "B" Coy Commander Major Hill, one of the few to survive and keep a record of events (unofficial)!"

"Pte Crook was killed at a village called Udien. The Japanese were entrenched and "B" Coy prepared to attack on the morning of the 5 March. Pte Crook was in a section probing the Jap positions and was killed with 4 others wounded. The irony to this is that the attack was carried out successfully without further loss and I am sure that Pte Crook and his wounded comrades enabled "B" Coy's attack to pinpoint and test the strength of the Jap positions and to assist in the success of the operation…"

The Regimental History goes on to say that the advance continued throughout March finally taking Mandalay on 20 March 1945.

Sadly the family were to suffer a further loss in October that year when Reg's stepfather died whilst in Newbury Hospital. Doris Stokes then took her family back to her mother's home near Bath, leaving the older children to make their homes in Ramsbury, Calne and Hungerford.

Pte Reg Crook was buried in Taukkyan War Cemetery Rangoon.

Victor Sharman kindly contacted the Virtual Museum (Nov 2011) to add that Pte Crook is mentioned in the two books by the late Colonel John Hill who's daughter Monica is a keen follower of the 2nd Battalian Royal Berkshire website project. Col Hill's first book "China Dragons" gives an excellent account of B Company's actions.

Photo Gallery:

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- Reg Crook

- The Taukkyan War Cemetery, Rangoon