Henry Victor Hook

Family/Last name:
Forename(s) and initial(s):
Henry Victor
Date of birth:
Place of capture:
28 miles from Dunkirk
Data sources
Other Sources (Family testimony, Clarion)

Information submitted by Sue Hook (daughter):

My late father was Henry Victor Hook, (born 1910, died 1976) aka Ozzy Hook, and he played saxophone and clarinet in Jimmy Howe’s band while at Stalag VIIIb.

He was in the 2nd Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment and was captured 28 miles from Dunkirk, when he and his companions hid in haystacks as the Germans approached. When they saw the Germans fire into the haystacks without any warnings, they came out of hiding, leaving their weapons in the haystacks. They were walked for most of the way to the POW camp.

I have some photos and two entertainment programmes that Dad kept from his time in Stalag VIIIb. [These can be found in the ‘Music’ and ‘Sport’ Galleries on the ‘Gallerie’s page of the website]. Dad said very little about his time in the camp except for talking about the cold and burning some of the wooden slats from their beds, and making ‘soup’ from nettle leaves in the days before Red Cross Parcels arrived – he thought that without these no one would have survived.

Regarding the repatriation of prisoners in the late summer of 1943, Dad, Henry Victor Hook, said that it was agreed between the Allies and the Germans (under the Geneva Convention???) that medical personnel would be exchanged as there was a shortage on both sides, but this was under the condition that each prisoner released early did not go on active service again Dad had joined the Regular Army at the age of 14 and was automatically recorded on his pay book as a stretcher bearer as a 14 year old was too young to hold a weapon. This classification had never been removed from his pay book, which I still have so he was released as medical personnel.

Dad was taken to Sweden and travelled into northern Britain (I can’t remember if it was Aberdeen or Newcastle-on-Tyne). He then went to London for debriefing and on to Aldershot. Here he was asked if there was anyone he wished to contact and he gave Mum’s ATS name and number. Within a few minutes he was told that Mum (his fiancée) was in another part of the camp and was on her way to see him. They were given rail passes to Bristol and they were married during Dad’s one month’s repatriation leave.

Mum had kept all the letters Dad has sent from Stalag VIIIb and I still have them. Dad said that paper was so short in Stalag VIIIb so he kept Mum’s last letter until the next one arrived.

In August 1944, Dad was Band Sergeant of an army band playing for the people in Weymouth. Dad was a regular soldier who joined the Army when he was 14. He had attended the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall, studying the Alto Saxaphone and Clarinet, and had served in Egypt, India and China before the WWII. Dad had been called up as a reservist when war broke out and he was medically classed as A1. On his return from Stalag VIIIb, he was considered as B7, the lowest medical rating for a member of the armed forces, and only allowed to stay in the army as we were still at war. When WWII ended, Dad needed to do about two years more service to get an army pension, but because of his low medical rating, he was not allowed to sign on again.

Hook is mentioned in the Clarion, number 6 page 12.

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