Lives of the fellows

Alan Filmer (Sir) Rook

b.16 January 1892 d.26 August 1960
OBE(1938) CB(1946) KBE(1948) DPH Cantab(1919) MRCS LRCP(1915) MRCP(1919) FRCP(1939)

Alan Rook’s personal integrity was admired by every regular officer of the Royal Air Force Medical Service, while his friendly smile endeared him to every Volunteer Reserve officer fortunate enough to meet him during World War II. With him rank meant nothing as against ability.

His father was Eustace Henry Rook, a dental surgeon, and his mother Fanny Elizabeth, the daughter of George Henry Gates-Warren, city editor of the Morning Post. From Mill Hill School he entered Guy’s Hospital. Although he did not qualify in dental surgery, training in it was to prove a great asset in his work as a pathologist, for he had a flair for the construction of apparatus for research.

Immediately after qualifying in 1915 he was commissioned as a temporary officer in the R.A.M.C, and saw service on the Western Front until 1918, when he transferred to the Royal Air Force with a permanent commission. His four years’ service with a squadron provided him with an intimate knowledge of the living and working conditions of air-crew personnel and an insight into the problems of flying, in which he was to maintain a deep, understanding interest until his retirement.

For the next ten years he was clinical pathologist to the Institute of Pathology, and as a member of the Royal Air Force Sandfly Fever Commission in Malta made valuable contributions on the life history of the sandfly and on preventive measures against it, which were recognised by an O.B.E. But Rook was at heart a general physician and found his real bent when he was appointed to the main Service hospital at Halton in 1932. His teaching there and at the Institute of Pathology was consequently of a high standard, while his classic reports on research in aviation medicine were invaluable to the Air Ministry.

He excelled at ball games, particularly cricket, in which he was a member of the Royal Air Force team for many years. Because of his shy, retiring nature only his intimate friends knew him as a musician with a good singing voice. In 1918 he married Dorothy Pearse, daughter of Isaac Smedley; their son graduated in medicine and specialised in ophthalmology. After her death in 1944 he married, two years later, Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Wilson, a sister in the Princess Mary Royal Air Force Nursing Service.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1960, 2, 808-20 (p); Lancet, 1960, 2, 605-06; Times, 30 Aug. 1960.]

(Volume V, page 358)

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