His funeral and
a tribute by Air Cdre Charles Clarke OBE, President of the RAF Ex-POW Association
FuneralEric's funeral was at Randall's Park Crematorium, Leatherhead, on Thursday 5th May 2016.
Welcome & Opening Prayer, Rev Stewart Shaw
Tributes by daughters Dianne & Sue
Entry Music: The White Cliffs of Dover, sung by Vera Lynn.
Memories was sung by Georges Bullynck from Belgium.
Hymn: O ruler of the Earth and Sky, tune Melita
Bible Reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 For everything there is a season
Poem Flight by BP Young
Hymn: I vow to thee, my country, tune Thaxted
Ave Maria sung by Georges Bullynck
Short talk by Rev Stewart Shaw
Tributes by Alex and Karim, grandchildren
A Picture Show, with Georges Bullynck singing The Impossible Dream
Prayers ,followed by the Lord's Prayer
Commendation and Prayer of Blessing
Exit Music: We'll Meet Again, sung by Vera Lynn
Background to Eric Hookings - Air Cdre Charles Clarke OBEI believe Eric trained as a pilot in America, which must have been a wonderful experience for a young man as he was.
I have known Eric and Mary for many years. Eric was on the same Squadron as me although he arrived about a year later, by which time I been shot down. I was based at Woodhall Spa and the Squadron moved on to Coningsby, Dunholme Lodge and finally to Strubby, where Eric took off from on his last trip.
619 Squadron operated on Lancasters and Eric was shot down on the night of 6 November 1944 attacking Gravenhorst. Bomber Command lost 10 Lancasters on that night, or 70 young men. Three of his crew were killed and he bailed out and was taken to Dulag Luft for interrogation. Surprisingly enough, we never discussed his subsequent movements.
Then the I believe he was in Stalag Luft 3, of Great Escape fame, and on the Long March with me. We marched to Spremberg and then crowded into cattle trucks en route to a camp near Bremen. The camp had been wrecked by the previous occupants. Subsequently we were on the march once again for about a period of one month but this time we were living out in the open until we reached Lubeck, where we were camped-out on a farm.
I'm sure that like me he was taken to RAF Cosford for further debriefing and and then sent on leave. A month later we had to report to RAF Wittering where our future fate was decided. Eric was older and probably married and was allowed to leave the service.
I know that he had a very successful business career but he had more than his share of medical problems during the following years, which he always made light of.
He was a staunch supporter of the RAF ex-POW Association and I first became aware of him through our Squadron and POW reunions. He came out with us on a number of visits to Poland with serving RAF officers and airmen and occasionally a few ATC Cadets.
He was a great enthusiast and had a dry sense of humour. I remember one occasion when he decided to travel from the Midlands airport alone and collapsed at Loughborough station.
I find it hard to believe that I have lost such a good friend.
I feel sure that he would have been very proud to know that his funeral was attended by representatives of today's Royal Air Force. We have always been a impressed by them on our visits to Poland.
Air Cdre Charles Clarke OBE
page last updated 23 Nov 2017: © ACA Surrey Branch 2017