Bomber Command Books is the sales site for Mention the War Ltd. We specialise in publishing and selling books about RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War and related topics. Our growing list of titles focuses on the aircraft, squadrons and above all the men and women who shaped the legend that endures to this day.
The intention of Mention the War Publications is to help preserve the memory of the 55,573 members of Bomber Command who gave their lives for our freedom and their more fortunate comrades who survived the ordeal. We aim to ensure that succeeding generations can learn about their feats of heroism which were on an unparalleled scale. The least we can do is perpetuate the story of what they achieved and how they did it.
Our range of books is shown on this page, and is regularly updated.
Improved Availability of Bomber Command Books Where You Live.
UK customers, and many others, can order direct from Amazon.UK by clicking on the cover image of the book.
All books are available worldwide from Amazon's local sites.
We are delighted to tell you that Amazon has reached a Peace Accord with the Australian Government, and our books can now be printed in Oz. This is fantastic news, given the massive participation in Bomber Command by Australian and New Zealand crews.
Customers in the EU should purchase copies from Amazon.de, Amazon.es, Amazon.fr or Amazon.it, as the EU does not welcome books being sent from the UK and levies a 15% tax as well as delaying delivery. That is probably because they resent us having left.
Customers in Canada are also blessed with the availability of titles from Amazon.ca, which is nice.
We are occasionally contacted by customers who do not like using Amazon on principle. It is therefore fair to tell you that the books are produced and printed using Amazon's book production process and distributed directly through the various Amazon websites. It is this process that makes it feasible to offer our range of titles. It is, of course, possible to buy copies direct from us, but please be aware that these will still be printed by Amazon, and sent direct to you.
Payment for direct sales from us is collected securely through Paypal. You do not need a Paypal account; major debit and credit cards are accepted.
Books currently being prepared:
The Battle of the Barges - Julian Foynes' fascinating account of the RAF's role in thwarting Operation Sealion in 1940. Due out July / August 2021.
35 Squadron Profile - Chris Ward. Due out July 2021.
462 Squadron Profile - Chris Ward. Also due out July 2021.
Sweeping the Skies
A History of No.40 Squadron RFC and RAF, 1916-56
Skies is a comprehensive history of No. 40
Squadron, from its foundation as a Royal Flying Corps squadron in 1916 to its disbandment in 1956.
During World War I it was one of the foremost scout squadrons and numbered amongst its members some of that conflict's greatest aces, Mick Mannock, George McElroy and Roderic Dallas. Disbanded in 1919, it was reformed in 1931 as a bomber squadron and served in that role throughout World War II, flying Battles, Blenheims, Wellingtons and Liberators. The unit operated initially as part of Bomber Command and then, from late 1941, in the Mediterranean theatre. Disbanded again in 1947, it was reborn as a transport squadron, flying Avro Yorks during the Berlin Airlift, transferring once more into Bomber Command, equipped with Canberras, from 1953 to 1956.
David Gunby has meticulously researched the history of No. 40 Squadron, deriving material from documentary sources at the Public Record Office / National Archives, RAF Museum, the Air Historical Branch of the Ministry of Defence, and the Imperial War Museum, as well as from Canadian, Australian and New Zealand archives. What makes this work so valuable is the very large amount or survivor narrative that forms the core of the book.
Complete with comprehensive loss and casualty lists, and a wealth of photographs and maps, Sweeping the Skies is a work as scholarly as its is vividly evocative of squadron life over a forty-year period.
Softback edition, 293 pages, 11 in x 8 1/2 in, £15
No Known Grave
A Tribute to a Lost Bomber Crew
John M. Wilson
Ken Wilson was amongst the first to volunteer for the RAF following the outbreak of war in 1939. In the summer of 1943 Ken, by then a Flying Officer, was a navigator flying Halifax bombers with 78 Squadron. Early on the morning of July 30th, his Halifax JD252 was missing from its dispersal following the night's operation against Hamburg. Later that day, the body of the crew's Wireless Operator was recovered from the North Sea. The other six crewmen were never recovered.
'No Known Grave' is the personal account of the author to commemorate the loss of his brother and crew. It serves as a testament to what the families of over twenty thousand other missing airmen have gone through.
Softback edition, 107 pages, 9 in x 6 in, £15
Thus We Keep Faith
The Operational History of
196 Squadron RAF 1942 - 1946
Squadron was formed in late 1942 as a night bomber squadron, in No. 4 Group Bomber Command. It was February 1943 before the squadron became operational
with the first sorties being bombing raids on U Boat pens at Lorient, France flying Vickers Wellington aircraft. As well as the bombing raids the squadron also was used for ‘gardening’ (minelaying) sorties.
The unit was then transferred to No.3 Group and re-equipped with Mk III Short Stirlings. Soon afterwards, the Stirling was removed from front-line bombing operations, in favour of the Lancaster and Halifax.
Later in 1943 the squadron transferred once more, this time to 38 Group, Allied Expeditionary Air Force (AEAF). Its new role included glider-towing, troop carrying and secret operations for the S.O.E. and S.A.S. The squadron took part in all the main invasion operations on and after D-Day, including the ill-fated Arnhem operation and then the successful Rhine Crossings. Its operational effectiveness was at the cost of numerous aircraft and crews. When the war in Europe ended the squadron was used to repatriate troops and help misplaced refugees.
11 in x 8 1/2 in, 229 pages. Softback edition £15.
44 (Rhodesia) Squadron Profile
Originally formed in July 1917 as part of the Royal Flying Corps, it is as a heavy bomber unit in the Second World War that 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron is best known. Manned by a large proportion of aircrew from southern Africa, the squadron was renamed in 1941 in their honour. The crest is based on the seal of the Matabele chief Lobengula, the elephant featured depicting the weight of attacks the squadron was to carry out.At the start of the war, 44 Sqn flew the Handley-Page Hampden. Famously, the squadron was the first to be fully equipped with the Avro Lancaster, the bomber that was to change the fortunes of the RAF in the strategic campaign against Germany. Becoming fully operational with the type at the beginning of March 1942, six weeks later the squadron had the opportunity to fully test their new weapon in the Augsburg Raid. Five of the six 44 Sqn crews failed to return, along with two of the six crews from 97 Sqn. S/L John Nettleton, who led the 44 Sqn contingent, was awarded the VC.Stationed at RAF Waddington at the outbreak of the war, the unit moved to RAF Dunholme Lodge in 1943 before a further move, in September 1944, to RAF Spilsby. Involved in all the major battles of the strategic bombing campaign in Europe, 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron inevitably paid the price in aircrew and aircraft, losing 43 Hampdens and 149 Lancasters in action.Chris Ward’s Profile of this fine squadron explains in detail the significant contribution to the war effort made, and the sacrifices suffered, by the officers and men of 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron.
11 in x 8 1/2in. 529 pages, fully illustrated. Softback edition £20 (worldwide).
Hardback edition available on Amazon.com and worldwide including in EU.
The hardback edition is not available in the UK due to EU restrictions. Bizarre but true.
Strong by Speed
No. 195 Squadron and the War Against Hitler's Germany
One of the unsung, and largely unheard-of units of RAF Bomber Command’s 3 Group, 195 Squadron was formed in October 1944 from one of Bomber Commands premier squadrons, No.115. Almost from the day of its formation the squadron was at the forefront of the bomber offensive. Everyone who served on the squadron was driven with a burning ambition to make it the most successful unit within the group and Bomber Command. It had the aircraft, and it certainly had the crews, some of which had spent years as instructors while others were second tour veterans. Equipped with the mighty Avro Lancaster and led by a squadron Commanding Officer who strove for excellence, 195 Squadron very quickly earned a reputation for getting things done. This came at the inevitable price of heavy casualties. Over the course of seven months and approximately 1,400 bombing sorties, 195 Squadron fought a bitter and costly campaign in the skies above Germany, not only against the ferocious night-fighter and flak defences but also the dreadful weather during the winter of 1944/1945. Strong by Speed combines the operational history of the squadron with individual stories of many of those who served. The telling is long overdue.
11 in x 8 1/2 in. 305 pages. Softback edition £18.
11 in x 8 1/4 in. 305 pages. Hardback edition (available worldwide except UK as it's prohibited by the EU) £25.
Bealine Charlie Oscar
Flight CY284 - The Real Story Behind a Forgotten Atrocity
On 12th October 1967, Cyprus Airways flight 284 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea near the island of Kastellorizo with the loss of all 66 passengers and crew. At the time it was the worst aviation disaster in Cypriot history. The flight, from London Heathrow to Nicosia via Athens, was operated by British European Airways on behalf of Cyprus Airways, using a Comet 4B aircraft, call sign Bealine Charlie Oscar. The subsequent accident investigation is still regarded as a masterpiece of forensic assessment, based on evidence from the very small amount of wreckage recovered. Within hours of the crash, there was much speculation that Charlie Oscar was destroyed in an attempt to assassinate General Georgios Grivas, the former leader of guerrilla forces during the Cyprus Emergency a few years earlier. After a short crime investigation, the police decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone with an offence. The full police and UK Home Office files will not be made public until 2067. However, documents from the National Archives suggest the police investigation was influenced by the Foreign Office to avoid uncovering evidence of a political nature. For more than half a century, the families of the lost passengers and crew have been denied the crucial answers to their questions, and with them the justice and closure they still seek. In this, the third edition of Bealine Charlie Oscar, aviation professional and writer Simon Hepworth gives a comprehensive account of Charlie Oscar’s last flight, the recovery operation and investigation into the tragedy. With access to new information, from previously undisclosed documents and witnesses, he pieces together what happened before, during and after the fateful flight. He presents compelling evidence that 66 innocent people were massacred in what is still Britain’s biggest undetected mass murder, in a fall-out between people at the highest level of Cypriot politics, and that the authorities in the UK and Cyprus have continued to wish that the atrocity was quietly forgotten.
Hardback edition: 357 pages, 9 in x 6 in. £19.50 (worldwide except in UK, due to EU restrictions)
Softback edition: 357 pages, 9 in x 6 in. £13.50
Kindle edition: £4.99
Dambusters: The Complete WWII History of 617 Squadron
by Chris Ward with Andy Lee and Andreas Wachtel
This is an amended version of the 75th Anniversary Revised 617 Squadron Profile and contains the same information with a handful of additional photos. The book builds on the authors' earlier work, Dambusters - The Definitive History (Red Kite Publishing 2003), catalogued by the Imperial War Museum as 'a book of national interest.'
'Dambusters - The Complete WWII History of 617 Squadron' is also Chris Ward's celebration of twenty years of research on the subject, and includes a fitting tribute to his late father. It also presented a chance to team up with artist Simon Atack, whose work Chris has always admired, and in so doing sandwich the most detailed account yet written of 617 Squadron's war between two of the finest portrayals ever produced of Operation Chastise. Originally formed in 1943 to attack the Ruhr Dams, 617 Squadron was subsequently tasked with highly-specialised and incredibly risky missions which have become the stuff of legend. The unit carried out hazardous raids against the Dortmund-Ems Canal, strongpoints linked to the dreaded V2 rockets, attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz, as well as other problematic targets.The story of the ‘Dambusters’ is widely-known but many myths and inaccuracies have crept in as the tale has been retold. Chris Ward’s profile of the unit sets the record straight on these and relates the full wartime history of 617 Squadron. Comprehensively illustrated, this book sheds new light on the most famous unit in the history of aerial warfare.
For Canada, the Amazon.ca link is https://www.amazon.ca/Dambusters-Complete-WWII-History-Squadron/dp/1911255525/ref=sr_1_29?keywords=Dambusters&qid=158806
A4 format, photos printed in b/w. 406 pages. £20.
Special Offer - Limited Edition Hardback
From Chris Ward and Clare Bennett, with stunning cover artwork by Simon Atack, this is a new biography of P/O George Deering, air gunner in the Gibson crew on the Dams Raid. Illustrated in colour, the book is a limited edition high quality hardback. Signed by authors and artist.
Contact email@example.com for a copy. 158 pages, A4, £15 plus £5 p&p (in UK). Postage to Canada is £15 and to Australia / New Zealand, £20. It's not available from Amazon.
Bomber Command Books is pleased to launch its 'Supported Authors' scheme, intended to help self-published authors of Bomber Command titles reach a wider audience through featuring on our website, and taking advantage of our external advertising.
The Boy with Only One Shoe
Warrant Officer (Ret'd) John Henry Meller
55,573 Royal Air Force Bomber Command aircrew lost their lives on operations during World War 2. That's more than the total who serve in Britain's RAF today. With a terrifying 46% combat attrition rate, an Avro Lancaster Bomber was one of the most dangerous places to be during the conflict. Yet no one was enlisted to become aircrew: all were volunteers. So, at a time when Britain stood resolute in its fight against tyranny and oppression, young men from across the globe did just that. At just 18 years old, John Henry Meller was one such man.The ordeals and sacrifices endured by John and his generation were crucial to the success of the Allied nations. In the words of Winston Churchill, Great Britain's wartime leader:"Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands ...... Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and the Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."As few remain to bear witness to that time, John - together with daughter Caroline Brownbill - have chosen to document his vivid recollections of wartime life. Join him as he shares what it was like to crew a Lancaster over Europe, during the darkest days of the War.
To learn more about the authors, please visit: JHMeller.com
5in x 8in, 338 pages, £9.99
Flying High in the Sunlit Silence
The Aviation Art of Jack Berry
Jack Berry is an autistic teenager who uses his artwork as a form of communication and release. His favourite hobbies are aircraft and racing cars and he regularly shares his love of these on social media through his artwork. Art is in the eye and mind of the artist, and Jack’s drawings and paintings show the world of aviation, and the odd racing car as he sees them, with a vibrancy and optimism that cannot always be conveyed through a photograph.Jack’s art has a lovely tranquil, radiant and fresh quality to it which is really uplifting and enchanting. Jack wanted to create and publish his own artwork book with his favourite aircraft, accompanied by a write up from his favourite pilots and aircrew. This delightful book has become a lovely link and formed a wonderful friendship bond between Jack and many aviators of the modern day, and those with a personal history in aviation stretching back over decades and generations. He formed an artistic bond in particular with John Henry Meller, who served as a wireless operator in Bomber Command during the Second World War. Created in a period in our history when people have been isolated by a pandemic which has divided and isolated, this book has reached out and linked households and airfields in union. Proof indeed that kindness finds its way across any obstacle.
The author's proceeds will be used to support SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity, the International Bomber Command Centre and Lincolnshire's Lancaster Association.
8 1/4 in x 8 1/4 in, full colour, 91 pages. Kindle £4.99 Paperback £11.99
Nothing Can Stop Us
514 Squadron served in the RAF’s No. 3 Group, Bomber Command, between September 1943 and August 1945. After a short period of operations from RAF Foulsham, the squadron transferred to its permanent home at RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, in December 1943, some aircraft travelling from the old base to the new via a raid on Berlin.It was, of course, the people of the squadron who were its heart and soul. Supported by hard-working ground crew, the focus inevitably was on the airmen who climbed into their Lancaster bombers, risking and often losing their lives in the ceaseless battle to beat the most evil regime Western Europe has ever known.224 separate crews have been identified from the squadron’s Operational Record Book.
The trilogy examines every aspect of a typical, and unsung, Bomber Command squadron and is quite possibly the most detailed such work in its genre.
The war cost 514 Squadron 88 Lancasters shot down, crashing or damaged beyond repair on operations and a further three on training flights. The real cost, though, was its people, 437 of whom gave their lives serving with 514 Squadron. The boys from the ‘Beach, as the airfield has always been known, will never be forgotten.
The first volume, 'Nothing Can Stop Us' tells the narrative history of the unit, along with personal accounts from many who served.
Nothing Can Stop Us: 9 in x 6 in, 400 pages, £14.99
The second volume, 'Striking Through Clouds' is the war diary of 514 Squadron, as detailed in the unit's official Operational Record Book. Presented in diary form, this immensely readable book also contains details of every aircraft and crew lost, along with the known, probable or likely cause. The meticulous transcription of the original documents is supplemented by details of every aircraft lost on operational service and includes over 100 images.
Striking Through Clouds: 9 in x 6 in, 544 pages, £13.50
'The Beach Boys', the third volume in the 514 Squadron history, lists each crew, in the name of its pilot, with every available photograph of its members. For each crew, every known operational sortie has been listed, based on the summary of each ‘op’, provided when the returning crew was debriefed. All too often, however, the final record was simply ‘Aircraft Missing’.
The Beach Boys: 9 in x 6 in. 752 pages, £20
Skid Row to Buckingham Palace
Flight Lieutenant Lou Greenburgh DFC& Bar, with Ed Greenburgh
Flight Lieutenant Lou Greenburgh DFC & Bar had an epic war, even by Bomber Command standards. He survived a ditching in the North Sea, brought his damaged Lancaster and the remnants of his crew home after further encounters with the Luftwaffe, whom he felt had a personal grudge against him, and accidentally bombed Paris instead of Dusseldorf. Eventually shot down, he evaded capture and hid in a forest with other airmen until liberated by allied troops after D-Day. This is his story, as told to his son.
The Boy and the Bomber
Two days after D-Day, a Lancaster and her crew was shot down over France, coming to rest near the author's village. The survivors were helped by local citizens until two were betrayed to the Nazis, winding up in Buchenwald Concentration Camp. This is the story of the Lancaster, her crew and the brave Frenchmen and women who risked their lives to help them.
An Ear to the Ground
A Wireless Operator's War in Bomber Command
As a 17-year-old Frank Bell would leave his Darlington home at about 6pm and cycle to RAF Middleton St. George to watch the Whitley bombers landing and taking off, returning home at 8.30 pm. Joining the Air Training Corps to learn everything he could about the RAF, Frank went to camp at RAF Topcliffe and was lucky enough to experience a twenty-minute trip in a Halifax bomber. At that point, he knew for certain all he wanted to do was fly. With his grandfather’s permission he went to Middlesbrough and successfully volunteered for the RAF. He continued to attend ATC twice a week, concentrating on learning Morse Code. Two weeks before his 18th birthday, Frank was called up for military service in the RAF. From 1944 into 1945, Frank’s crew flew in Lancaster bombers, surviving forty operations over Occupied Europe and Germany. He kept diaries and later transcribed these, along with his additional memories into copious notes. Frank’s story is a personal one, with descriptions of the raids, the narrow squeaks, the hazards, the sadness of losing friends and many nuggets of information not usually mentioned. Illustrated with many black and white photographs, it is also a compelling account of the meticulous planning that went into the planning of the raids, and gives a detailed insight into the life of Wireless Operator in a heavy bomber in the Second World War. Nearly seventy years after his wartime service, Frank was back at Middleton St. George, as an honoured guest at the visit of a Canadian Lancaster, one of only two such aircraft still flying.
9 in x 6 in., 101 pages, £9.49
A Short War
'A Short War' is the complete history of 623 Squadron, a short-lived unit who flew Short Stirling bombers from RAF Downham Market in 1943. This comprehensive account by Steve Smith, a researcher and historian specialising in 3 Group and RAF Downham Market, is the only book dedicated to this overlooked but heroic squadron.
9 in x 6 in, 259 pages, £9.49
'Courage Was Not Enough'
No. 218 (Bomber) Squadron - 'Weston-super-Mare's Own' - 1936 - 1942
The golden years of the RAF were, without doubt, the 1930s. It was during this exciting decade that No.218 Squadron was reformed having spent the previous 17 years just a number on a dusty Air Ministry shelf.In March 1936, a new menace was growing in Germany. Adolf Hitler, the new Chancellor, began the slow but inevitable journey to another world war. This time, the Air Ministry was quick to recognise the potential threat and several squadrons were quickly reformed, No.218 being one of them. Initially equipped with the Hawker Hind the squadron spent the next two years flying the sleek though increasingly obsolescent biplane until re-equipping with the new Fairey Battle light bomber in 1938. With a war with Germany looming the squadron had to intensify its training to meet the needs of a daylight bomber squadron. In September 1939, the squadron flew to France, where it languished at first during what become known as the 'Phoney War'. Full of confidence in the ability of its crews and equipment, the squadron waited for the inevitable. Little did they realise that when it came, they would be swept aside despite their heroic and courageous efforts. In May 1940, the squadron was effectively wiped out along with most of the Battle-equipped squadrons of the Advanced Air Striking Force. Returning to England to replace lost crews and aircraft, the squadron found itself flying almost suicidal daylight operations with the Bristol Blenheim with No.2 Group. Operating during the height of the Battle of Britain the squadron attacked various targets crucial to the German invasion of Britain. Then unexpectedly in November 1940 the squadron was transferred to No.3 Group, RAF Bomber Command. Yet again the squadron again set about reequipping, this time with the Vickers Wellington. The squadron's new role was night bombing, a role that it would continue to operate in until VE Day in 1945. In 1942 the squadron was equipped with the Short Stirling and took the bombing war further afield to Italy and Czechoslovakia. This is the story of bravery, courage and above all sacrifice, this book traces the highs and lows of the early years of a front-line bomber squadron, and the men and women who served with it between 1936 and 1942.
11 in x 8 1/2 in., 447 pages, Paperback £18.
A Stirling Effort
Steve Smith's comprehensive book tells the full story of Short Stirling operations from RAF Downham Market. The units covered are 218 (Gold Coast), 623 and 214 (Malay States) Squadrons. The book includes details of every operation carried out and crews lost between 1942 and 1944. An excellent piece of research. At present this title is only available in e-book format.
Steve Smith's new book covers the final two years of the war, in which 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron made the transition from the Short Stirling to the iconic Avro Lancaster. Full of compeling narrative and comprehensive records of every aircraft, this is a must for anyone with an interest of the squadron.
11 in x 8 1/2 in, 398 pages, £18
'I Would Not Step Back...'
Squadron Leader Phil Lamason, RNZAF, DFC and Bar
168 Condemned Allied Airmen...A Nazi firing squad...Three days to execution...The two men lock eyes…and in the mind-numbing battle of wills that follows, a 20-man firing squad stands ready to shoot…an RNZAF Squadron Leader stares down a Nazi officer who is about to decide his fate. Finally the command comes…“Ground arms!” Standing tall, the natural-born leader has again confronted the brutal SS and merciless Gestapo…and again secured the survival of 168 Allied airmen incarcerated in Buchenwald death camp in Germany, 1944.Meet Phil Lamason, the ‘broken-nosed Kiwi’, a New Zealander who took responsibility for those around him, the ‘lost airmen’ from Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica and the USA.Phil knew loyalty and betrayal. He experienced the stench of death and the injustice of war yet cherished the pride of land ownership and the joys of parenthood. He was the steely-eyed man who stood up to his German captors but was a ‘pushover’ for his own children.This is a story of leadership, resilience and courage; a young man serving in RAF Bomber Command, thrown into the cauldron of battle and who was ultimately tested to the limit of human endurance, and the cast of characters who found their way into his family history and personal life.Phil Lamason: a man who knew both triumph and tragedy and who, when the time came, stood up to be counted.
9 in x 6 in format, 271 pages, £15.00
148 (Special Duties) Squadron
A Special Duty
Jennifer Elkin's father flew Halifax bombers on Special Duty operations, supplying resistance groups in Eastern Europe and dropping secret agents. Forced down in Poland, his was the first RAF crew to be repatriated by the Soviet forces. Jennifer's story is poignant, and highlights the longer-lasting effect on many aircrew after their wartime adventures had ended. The book gives an excellent insight into the work of the little-known Special Duties squadrons.
Trusty to the End
Oliver Clutton-Brock's latest book is a detailed history of 148 (Special Duties) Squadron. After supporting the allied war effort in the Mediterranean theatre for the first half of WW2, the unit was reborn as a specialist squadron delivering agents and supplies to resistance units in the Balkans and Poland. Told in great detail and with numerous photographs, this is the definitive and hitherto-unheralded story of a heroic unit.
Wig's Secret War
During WW2, Sydney 'Wig' Wigginton was a senior officer in Britain's irregular warfare unit, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), responsible for deploying missions to support the resistance across the Axis-occupied Balkans. Later, he moved to Southern Italy, where his scope was extended to the whole of southern and eastern Europe. As an acknowledged air operations expert he was then deployed to the Far East where he provided support to the local resistance, as they made a significant contribution to the fight against the Japanese. This is Wig’s previously untold story, written by the son he never knew.
Other Wartime Histories
Late Arrival The Story of Jim 'Winkie' Kirk, RNZAF
Determined to do his bit, Jim ‘Winkie’ Kirk left his job as a butcher’s apprentice in his hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand to volunteer for the Royal New Zealand Air Force. He didn’t give much thought to what lay in store for him beyond that. Trained as an air gunner, he crewed up with five other New Zealanders before being posted to 75 (NZ) squadron based at Mepal, Cambridgeshire. Jim described himself as the ‘oily rag’ of his seven-man Lancaster crew; a run-of-the-mill flight sergeant who had joined the air force because he wanted nothing more than to travel and see the world, and who didn’t consider himself anything special. He found himself flying into hostile skies where he faced anti-aircraft fire, enemy fighters and his own inner fears. His long-held determination that he would never jump from his aircraft unravelled one night in July 1944 when his Lancaster fell victim to a marauding night fighter over the night skies of Northern France. He drifted down into occupied France where he spent time on the run before ending up at a camp of the French Resistance. From the dangers of bombing raids and the loss of friends and comrades to witnessing close up the brutality of war, Jim ‘Winkie’ Kirk witnessed it all as he went from naïve young butcher’s apprentice to Bomber Command aircrew and then French Resistance fighter. This is his story.
6 in x 9 in format, 255 pages, £15.00 / US$ 20.00 / Eu 18.00 or thereabouts.
Ken Marshall's acclaimed history of No. 4 Group, Bomber Command in World War Two was first published in 1996 in hardback. To mark the twentieth anniversary of this authoritative work, the book has been updated with additional photos and published in paperback. Ken's book tells the operational history of the squadrons that made up the group for the duration of the Second World War, including the early days when the mainstay of air operations was the often overlooked Whitley bomber.
In 2008 Graham Clayton published Last Stand in Singapore: The Story of 488 Squadron RNZAF. After the fall of Singapore, the squadron was disbanded, then subsequently reformed in the UK in June 1942 as an RAF unit, 488 (New Zealand) Squadron. Its role was to take on the German Luftwaffe in the night skies over the UK and Europe. Gone the Dark Night is the long-awaited sequel and completes the wartime history of 488 Squadron.The aircraft and equipment were rudimentary, and a huge effort was made to develop night fighting defences that might defeat the Luftwaffe bombers in the air after dark over the UK and Europe. Success was to be a long time in coming. Initially equipped with the Bristol Beaufighter, the unit was later supplied with the night fighter variant of the iconic de Havilland Mosquito. The crews, mostly young New Zealanders, were at the forefront of a struggle against seemingly impossible odds. From the early days they struggled to survive not only enemy attacks but also the dangers of flying at night in adverse weather conditions. At the same time, they had to become proficiency with new technology that seemed to change on a weekly basis. Teamwork was vital to the success of each operation and to ensure their own survival in the night skies. This was an occupation fraught with continuous danger; the hunter could very quickly become the hunted, and the possibility of being shot down by your own side was also very real. These young men showed a determination that ultimately gained them success and victory in Europe. Their pathway to victory was paved with a life and death struggle to gain ascendancy over a skilful and wily enemy, and much personal tragedy was encountered on the way. After half a century after they played such a large part in defeating the Luftwaffe menace, their heroism is still an example to us all.
6 in x 9 in format, 409 pages, £15.00 / US$ 20.00 / Eu 18.00 or thereabouts.
The Wasted Years - An ANZAC Soldier's Life in the Great War
Sometimes we do actually publish books that aren't about Bomber Command! This is the story of 44717 Pte Francis James Graham of the 1st Auckland Battalion of the New Zealand Infantry, a surviving member of the Third Auckland Company, who traveled to his own personal Armageddon in Europe with the 24th Reinforcements. It is set in the context of some of the bloodiest fighting in the carnage of the Western Front and is a microcosm of the service and sacrifice of thousands of New Zealand soldiers who answered the call to arms a century ago. It was a time that changed his view of the world forever.
9 in x 6 in, 239 pages, £15 plus p&p.
Ready, Willing and Able Two
by Sean Feast
Howard Battson was one of life’s great characters. Born in Hertford, the son of a prominent local councillor, Howard was training to become an architect in London before the war interrupted his studies and he volunteered for aircrew. Hopes of becoming a pilot receded in favour of becoming an air bomber, and after training in Canada he returned for operational training in the blacked-out skies of Britain, surviving a terrible crash and narrow
ly escaping with his life. Posted to 460 Squadron, an Australian unit, in the early summer of 1944, and flying with an Australian pilot and mixed RAF/RAAF crew, Howard was in his element, fighting hard and playing harder. During an eventful tour in which they had their fair share of scrapes and near misses, they also had the near-unique experience of ‘looping a Lanc’ to escape a night fighter attack and living to tell the tale. Howard stayed on in the RAF immediately after the war, becoming the last Commanding Officer at RAF Silverstone before it was handed over to the army. Emigrating to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Howard pursued a successful second career as a surveyor, working primarily on the railways, and coming across Prime Ministers Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe. Eventually returning home and retiring to Surrey, he became an active member of Silver Line and the RAFBF Telephone Friendship Group. Appointed to the Legion d’Honneur, Howard died on August 13, 2020.
6 x 9 inches, 131 pages, illustrated. £9.99 plus delivery.
A Thousand and One
Flight Lieutenant Humphrey Phillips DFC
Flight Lieutenant Humphrey Phillips DFC, MiD (twice) became one of the very first of the new breed of flight engineers. Posted initially to 103 Squadron, he flew in the first two of the historic, showpiece 1000 Bomber raids against Cologne and Essen as part of a scratch crew of tour-expired instructors. Posted to 1656 Conversion Unit he survived a number of scrapes with novice pilots (many who went on to have distinguished careers) and was Mentioned in Despatches for inventing two devices to instruct new engineers on the Lancaster’s fuel and hydraulics systems. Keen to operate, he completed a tour with 626 Squadron, at the height of the Battle of Berlin, whilst also the squadron’s flight engineer leader. Humphrey swas awarded the DFC, and returned to instructing, being once more Mentioned in Despatches with 1668 HCU before the war’s end. In 2017 he became what is believed to be Britain's oldest first-time published author.
The Incidental Navigator - Sir Maurice Rault, QC.
Edited by Sean Feast from a translation by Danielle Lagesse.
Maurice Rault was no ordinary Bomber Command navigator, and this no ordinary memoir. Born on the small island of Mauritius, Maurice is drawn by a love of two countries – Britain and France – to join the RAF to help rid the continent of Nazi tyranny. He is also driven by a romantic ideal, and a sense of Chivalry from a previous age, to put right what he sees as a terrible wrong, a betrayal of France, and a burning passion to see the Allies prevail.With 103 Squadron at Elsham Wolds he experiences the terror of bombing operations over Germany in the last stages of the war, including a dramatic operation to Bremen which is nearly his last. In a few short weeks, his Squadron loses eleven crews – more than seventy men – at a time when the Germans still fail to acknowledge they are beaten. At Elsham he joins a secret society known as ‘the zoo’, to share a love of books and culture as an escape from the horrors of war. Through ‘Gilbert’, ‘Nestor’, the ‘Bigamist’, and the hideous ‘Palmer’, Maurice reveals a different side to war, of compassion and loathing for men facing similar fears. Whether these characters are actual people or imaginary is for the reader to decide, but his affection for his squadron, for Elsham, for ‘the Butcher’, and for his fellow man is very real indeed.
9 in x 6 in, 163 pages, £12 plus p&p.
Lancaster Bale Out
Reworked and updated, Clive Smith’s story of his second cousin, Jack Hougham, is available through Amazon worldwide for the first time. Jack was shot down and killed in a 106 Squadron Lancaster in 1943. Jack's crew-mate Fred Smooker grew up near Durham and left school in 1930 at the age of 14. He followed his Father into Coal Mining, but at the age of 17 decided to further his education and begun studying for a senior mining qualification. Mid-way through his exams in 1941, Britain had been at war for 18 months and things were going badly for the Allies. Fred came to the decision that 'aircrew were more important than coal miners' so he volunteered to join the RAF. After being accepted he was called up in June of that year, and 20 months later found himself flying operations over Germany as a Bomb Aimer, flying in Lancasters with 106 Squadron based at RAF Syerston. The events that followed during the next 2 years would live with him for the rest of his life. Fred passed away aged 91 in 2008. He had outlived the rest of his crew by more than 64 years and for his whole life had lived with the question, “Why me?”
Casualty of War
Flight Lieutenant William ‘Bill’ Astell DFC was an experienced pilot who, after training in Rhodesia, had been posted to 148 Squadron in the Middle East. His experiences in that theatre included an horrendous accident, in which he suffered a head injury. Returning to ops, he was then shot down behind enemy lines, but evaded capture and got back to base, for which he was awarded the DFC. Eventually posted back to England, he joined 57 Squadron at RAF Scampton before moving with the unit’s ‘C’ Flight across the airfield to form the embryonic 617 Squadron. Numerous family photographs, along with Bill’s letters, cables and airmail cards home from his postings, tell his personal story, ended only by his untimely death on 17th May 1943. Bill’s letters are original and unedited, and reflect some language and attitudes that were of their time. In the interests of accuracy, his words are unchanged, giving the reader an authentic voice of pre-war Britain. A4, 116 pages, illustrated.
These Are But Words
An Anthology of Bomber Command Poems
Collected by Ken Marshall and Steve Allen
Someone once said that there'd be no great poetry from the Second World War such as there was after the First. The poems in this collection have proved this to be a fallacy. The attrition of Bomber Command aircrew probably came closer to emulating the carnage of trench warfare on the Western Front than any other campaign, and the emotions and impressions of those serving are captured in stark reality by the words contained in this anthology.Almost all the poems were written by Bomber Command airmen at the time, or whilst their ordeal was still fresh in their minds. It is heartfelt, poignant and intensely moving; at times it also reflects the humour and determination of a breed of very young men and women who were, without a doubt, our greatest generation.Steve Allen and Ken Marshall started collecting Bomber Command poems when they discovered each had a close relative who had served on bombers and had also written poems about their experiences. It's been a labour of love and respect for the brave boys (for that's all they were back then), of Bomber Command. These may just be words, as the title suggests, but they are words that sit righfully along the equally magnificent men of the previous generation such as Rupert Brooke, John Macrae and Wilfred Owen, whose own works are celebrated.Read, be moved and remember.
9 in x 6 in, 116 pages, £9.99
Royal Air Force and
Australian Flying Corps
Volume 1: 1st April to 30th June 1918
The Royal Air Force was formed on 1st April 1918, by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. Flying alongside the RAF were the squadrons of the Australian Flying Corps, forming a bond of alliance that persists to this day. Life in the air was nasty, brutish and short for all too many of the aircrew. At the worst times, their life expectancy was no more than a few days. Not only were they flying in aircraft of wood and canvas, rudimentary and often difficult to fly by today's standards, but they were faced with a determined, well-armed adversary who was equally capable in technological and operational terms. Men and machines fell to earth by the hundreds, brought down by enemy fire, mechanical failure or because the skills required to fly them in the prevailing conditions were momentarily too much for the less-experienced pilots who simply never got the chance to master their trade. Bill Chorley's great new work brings to the reader the details of all recorded casualties of these two powerful air forces, and serves as a tribute to those who gave their lives, often in the most awful of circumstances, a century ago.
Volume One covers the first three months of the RAF's existence, 1st April to 30th June 1918, whilst Volume Two takes the reader to the end of the First World War on 11th November 1918.This series provides the most comprehensive record ever published of every squadron loss for the RAF in the Great War, along with all AFC operational losses in the European theatre in the final months of that bloody conflict.
A4 format. 336 pages (Vol 1) 485 pages (Vol 2). Each volume £15 / US$20.
Vol 3: 12th November 1918 - 31st December 1920
Bill Chorley's 'RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War' has long been the authoritative source of information about the casualties suffered by aircrew in the strategic bombing campaign against Germany in that conflict. Bill has now turned his researching and writing skills to the earlier air war in Europe, that in the last few months of the Great War, and the inter-war period. The Twenties and Thirties, whilst a haven of peace and tranquillity after the slaughter of the Great War, were still a perilous period for flying aircraft in military service. The result is the series 'Royal Air Force & Australian Flying Corps Squadron Losses', which will cover the period from the foundation of the RAF to the outbreak of World War II.
Volume 1 covers the first three months of the RAF's existence, 1st April to 30th June 1918, whilst Volume 2 takes the reader to the end of the First World War on 11th November 1918. Volume 3, which covers the period from the day after the Armistice until 31st December 1920. The aircraft types were mostly those that had been in service at the end of the war, and many of the airmen had seen service in that conflict. It is tragic that so many were to fall prey to accidents and other mishaps having come through that ordeal.
Volume 3: A4 format, 305 pages, £15.
Soldiers in Petticoats
From the fields and factory production lines, to the front line, the women of Britain and her allies is often overlooked in history of World War Two. The Women’s Land Army, WRNS and the WAAF are perhaps the best-known services in which women contributed significantly to the conflict. Less heralded, perhaps, are the nurses, industrial workers, anti-aircraft crews and, the bravest of the brave, the women agents of the Special Operations Executive. Alan Cooper’s book is an updated version of The Gentle Sex, a comprehensive account of the variety of roles played by the female half of the population, all of which were vital to the war effort. Numerous personal accounts from the women who were there tell the story first hand. They, too, shall never be forgotten.
Chris Ward's Bomber Command Profiles
Chris Ward's original Bomber Command Squadron Profiles first appeared in the late nineties as a series of narrative-only publications. Each book gave a detailed overview of a specific squadron, providing all the facts, figures and information necessary for researchers and those wanting a point of reference for what they or their relatives did during WWII. More than sixty Profiles were written before being consolidated into a series of books covering the various Groups of Bomber Command. Despite that, affection for and interest in the Bomber Command Profiles remained high and, in 2015, Chris decided to bring them back in updated form, published by Mention the War Ltd. Benefiting from additional research, the individual squadron profiles are, wherever possible, illustrated by photographs and maps.
Chris is an acknowledged expert on 617 Squadron and has previously written two acclaimed full 617 Squadron histories, 'Dambusters, the Definitive History', published by Red Kite in 2003, and 'Dambusters, Forging of a Legend', published by Pen & Sword in 2009. Chris and his friend Andreas Wachtel were the first to identify, visit and survey the previously unknown crash sites from the Dams and Dortmund-Ems Canal operations in 1943. They produced a guide book for those wishing to follow in their footsteps. Chris has also written extensively about Bomber Command, producing not only the Squadron Profiles, but also books about five of the eight groups in the Command during the war.
Formed at Farnborough in 1915 as an artillery observation unit, 10 Squadron was absorbed into the fledgling RAF before being disbanded for the first time in 1919. The squadron reformed in 1928, specialising in night bombing. The outbreak of the Second World War saw 10 Sqn stationed at RAF Dishforth, where it was the first operational unit to operate the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley twin-engined bomber. On the night of 1st / 2nd October 1939, three Whitleys of 10 Sqn became the first RAF aircraft to undertake operational sorties over Berlin in WW2, although they dropped leaflets rather than bombs. In very poor weather, one other Whitley did not reach the target. After distributing its paperwork over Denmark the aircraft and crew tragically failed to return.As part of No. 4 Group, Bomber Command, the squadron underwent subsequent moves to RAF Leeming and RAF Melbourne in the early years of the war. Whilst at Leeming, the venerable Whitley was replaced by the redoubtable Halifax bomber, Mks II and III being operated, the latter type equipping 10 Sqn for the remainder of the war.In total, 10 Sqn’s crews carried out 609 operations, totalling 6233 sorties. 156 aircraft were lost, 2.5% of the total. The squadron is still operational in the present day, flying the Airbus Voyager in the transport / tanker role.
8.5 x 11 in, 396 pages, £15 / US$20
50 Squadron - Bomber Command Squadron Profile
by Chris Ward
When the Second World War broke out, 5 Group of RAF Bomber Command stood ready with six squadrons, five in the front line and one in reserve to train new crews. 50 Squadron was among the former. The squadron enjoyed a fairly gentle start to the war, but, once the gloves came off, first, with the Norwegian campaign of April 1940, and then the Nazi advance into the Low Countries and France in May, it was thrust into a hectic round of bombing and mining operations, which would see its crews operating against the enemy almost nightly throughout the summer and autumn. It was during this time that future stars began to shine, and, in the course of the ensuing two years, many passed through, who would go on to greater things, among them John Hopgood, Henry Maudslay, “Mickey” Martin and “Les” Knight and their crews, who would gain fame as Dambusters, some to lose their lives and others to survive. The squadron was blessed with outstanding leadership in the form of “Gus” Walker, Bill Russell and Robert Frogley to name but three of them, and, there is no question, that their willingness to lead from the front inspired those under their command. The squadron took part in all of the Command’s major campaigns, contributing in particular to those in 1943 and later against the Ruhr, Hamburg, Berlin, pre-invasion railway and coastal battery targets, flying bomb sites, canals, oil and tactical support for the ground forces. Its lower than average casualty figure speaks volumes for its professionalism and dedication to excellence, and its wartime record may be equalled, but never surpassed.
8.5 x 11 inches, 498 pages, fully illustrated. £18.
Chris Ward’s Profile of 75(NZ) Squadron is the long-awaited, definitive and comprehensive wartime account of
this well-known and highly-regarded Bomber Command outfit. Produced with the full support and assistance of squadron veterans, the Royal New Zealand Air Force Association and the New Zealand Bomber
Command Association, it is a testament to the duty and sacrifice of all those who served with this famous unit throughout the Second World War. Chris Ward’s detailed narrative, based on the
squadron’s Second World War Operations Record Book, is complemented by several hundred photographs, many published for the first time.
In 1938, the New Zealand government had ordered thirty Vickers Wellington Mk1 bombers. RNZAF aircrew were despatched to train on the new aircraft at RAF Marham, and then take them to their new home in the Southern Hemisphere. When war broke out, the New Zealand Government placed the aircraft and their crews at the disposal of the RAF to help fight the new enemy. Already known as ‘The New Zealand Squadron’, the unit was given the number 75 on 4 April 1940, the previous unit so numbered having been disbanded. This meant that the original nucleus of personnel remained together as an operational unit of the RAF.
On 4 April 1940, The New Zealand Squadron was renamed 75(NZ) Squadron. Although often referred to as an RNZAF unit, it was wholly equipped and controlled by the RAF until the end of the conflict. It was a key component of No. 3 Group, Bomber Command, and was based initially at RAF Feltwell, then RAF Mildenhall, RAF Newmarket and RAF Mepal, in Cambridgeshire. The unit saw action over France, Norway, Belgium, Italy, Sweden and Germany, distinguishing itself in the process.
The squadron operated with a strength of three Flights after receiving Short Stirling bombers. In line with the rest of No. 3 Group, the squadron re-equipped with the Avro Lancaster in 1944, the type seeing the unit through to August 1945.
75(NZ) Sqn operated against the Germans from 1940 to VE Day, flying more sorties than any other allied heavy bomber squadron, suffering the second highest number of casualties. A Victoria Cross was awarded to Sgt J A Ward for climbing out onto the wing of his Wellington on an operation over Europe, in an attempt to put out an engine fire. Although badly damaged by enemy fighters’ cannon shells, the aircraft managed to return to its base. 8.5 in x 11 in, 477 pages, £20 / US$ 25.
83 Squadron played a magnificent part during the dark days of 1940 and 1941, roaming deep into Germany to attack economic and industrial targets, albeit, to little effect. Amongst its early establishment was P/O Guy Gibson, who was to achieve immortal fame later on. With 1942 came the passing of the Hampden and the brief interlude with the ill-fated Manchester, but then came the Lancaster. When the Pathfinder Force was formed in August 1942, 83 Squadron was selected as a founder member, representing 5 Group, and drawing fresh crews from its squadrons. It continued proudly to serve the Pathfinders, or 8 Group, as it became, through the campaigns against Italy, the Ruhr, Hamburg and Berlin. Its commanding officers were renowned for leading from the front; three lost their lives on operations, two of them during the Berlin offensive. In April 1944, advances in bombing tactics led to the effective independence of 5 Group, and 83 Squadron returned to its former family to perform a marking and illuminating role on permanent loan from 8 Group until war's end. There was never a time when the influence of 83 Squadron was not felt within the ranks of Bomber Command. It distinguished itself with outstanding performances and below average losses from the first day of the war to the last. 8.5 in x 11 in. £15 / US$ 20.
101 Squadron has a long and glorious history, having been formed within the Royal Flying Corps in 1917. Just before the outbreak of the Second World War, 101 Squadron re-equipped with the Bristol Blenheim, initially as a training and conversion unit. The war became real for the squadron after the fall of France, and it played a full part in the Battle of Britain, attacking enemy invasion barges and airfields, before moving into an anti-shipping role. The intensifying bombing war then occupied the squadron for the duration of hostilities. After eighteen months with the Wellington bomber, 101 Squadron found its weapon of choice, the mighty Lancaster. With this iconic aircraft, the unit became legendary. The Luftwaffe’s night fighters were, by this time, becoming a lethal adversary and counter-measures were urgently needed if the bomber streams were to get through to their targets. 101 Squadron found its ultimate niche in the use of the highly-secret ‘Airborne Cigar’ (ABC) radio equipment, which allowed each aircraft so equipped to jam three German radio channels simultaneously. This had a very significant effect in reducing the capability of the defenders. 101 Squadron and its crews took part in every major campaign by Bomber Command, though this was inevitably at a high cost, with seven Lancasters out of twenty-six lost in a single night. The unit flew on more bombing raids than any other squadron in Bomber Command, but suffered the highest casualties, with 1176 airmen killed in action. Chris Ward’s profile of 101 Squadron is a comprehensive history of the unit through World War Two and contains details of every aircraft operated between 1939 and 1945. The operational records are set in the context of the bombing campaign and leavened with personal stories. It is illustrated throughout with some 200 photographs, many never previously published, these having been provided by the 101 Squadron Association archives and private individuals, including the personal collection of Flight Lieutenant Rusty Waughman, DFC. This book is the definitive history of one of the RAF’s most illustrious squadrons. 8.5 in x 11 in. £15 / US$ 20.
One of the finest units to grace the roll-call of RAF Bomber Command units during the Second World War was 103 Squadron. Immortalised by Don Charlewood in his epic classic of wartime literature, No Moon Tonight, the squadron was at the forefront of the conflict from the first to the last. After its outdated and outperformed aircraft were literally knocked out of the fight during the futile campaign to save France, the squadron returned to English soil where the remnant rose phoenix-like from the ashes of defeat, and, with new equipment, committed itself again to the battle. Even during its bleakest time, when briefly equipped with the unpopular early versions of the Halifax, it retained its esprit de corps. The mighty Lancaster saw it through the campaigns against the Ruhr, Hamburg, Berlin, railways, oil, V-Weapons and tactical support for the land forces, and then the second Ruhr offensive in the autumn of 1944. The squadron’s casualties were amongst the highest sustained by any bomber unit active throughout the five years and eight months of hostilities, but so also was the number of operations it flew and sorties it launched. Over 100 photos, many contributed by historian David Fell, grace this history of a magnificent unit.
Formed as a bomber unit in June 1938 at Abingdon, 106 Squadron initially operated Hawker Hinds. It soon re-equipped with the Fairey Battle before receiving its first Handley Page Hampdens in May 1939. The Hampden was replaced in early 1942 by the Avro Manchester, which by then was approaching the end of its unspectacular service as a frontline bomber, after which it was replaced by the Lancaster in May 1942. From that point onwards the squadron participated in all of the Command’s campaigns, and was often selected to take on special operations. After squadron CO Guy Gibson’s departure in March 1943 to form 617 Squadron for Operation Chastise, the squadron continued to benefit from outstanding flight and squadron commanders, whose style was to lead from the front. The squadron participated in many notable actions, including the first ‘Thousand Bomber Raid’, against Cologne in May 1942, the low-level attack on the Schneider plant at Le Creusot, Peenemunde and shuttle raids to Italy, before supporting the D-Day landings and attempting to obliterate the V1 and V2 menace in 1944. Its war was hard, but heroic, its entire purpose, perhaps, best summed up by the squadron motto; Per Libertarte (For Freedom). 8.5 in x 11 in. £15 / US$ 20.
Formed on 1st December 1917, 115 Squadron did not see action until it arrived in France in September 1918, when it commenced bombing operations against German industrial targets for what remained of the Great War. Following its return to England, the squadron was disbanded in October 1919, and spent most of the inter-war years ‘on the shelf’. Reformation took place on 15th June 1937 at Marham, with the squadron initially being equipped with the Fairey Hendon and then Handley Page Harrow bombers, until on 3rd April 1939 it re-equipped with the Vickers Wellington.
As one of 3 Group’s front-line bombing units, 115 Squadron spent the last few months of peace preparing for the impending conflict. After a low-key beginning the squadron then moved to the forefront of the Group’s operations for the remainder of the war. The Wellington was phased out and 115 Squadron became the first in Bomber Command to take on charge the Hercules-powered Lancaster Mk.II. This was replaced in 1944 by the iconic Merlin-powered Mks I and III Lancasters. Operating successively from RAF stations at Marham, Mildenhall, East Wretham and Little Snoring, in November 1943 the squadron settled at Witchford, near Ely in Cambridgeshire, from where it saw out the remainder of the conflict. Its battle honours were forged in the heat of all Bomber Command’s major campaigns over Occupied Europe, including The Ruhr, Berlin, Overlord, and the Oil and Transportation Plans.
By the end of hostilities, 115 Squadron had participated in 678 bombing and mining raids, totalling 7,753 sorties. In doing so, the unit lost 208 aircraft on operations, the highest total in Bomber Command.
115 Squadron still serves today’s Royal Air Force, one of the few that can trace their origin back to the Great War. Chris Ward’s profile of this venerable unit covers the hardest days of its history, the Second World War, from which it emerged bloodied but unbowed.
8.5 x 11 inches. 314 pages £15 / US$20
Most of the deeds of Bomber Command’s war are well documented. In the main, the wartime record of each squadron’s service, written with reasonable accuracy at the time, is available for scrutiny. There is just one exception. Such was the secrecy surrounding the activities of the moon squadrons at Gibraltar Farm, which became RAF Tempsford, that records, initially at least, were a luxury only occasionally indulged in. Brief hand-written entries allow a glimpse into this end of the Special Operations Executive, an organisation, which dispensed information on the strictest need-to-know basis. It was not unusual in the early days for a pilot to arrive at Tempsford on posting, only to kick his heels for days and even weeks, before being given an insight into the station’s activities and his part in the grand plan. Later on, the demand to service resistance organizations saw crews pressed into service with much greater alacrity, but the level of security never wavered. Chris Ward’s 138 Squadron Profile, draws in part on the unique insight of F/O Freddie Clark, who flew from Tempsford between late January and early April 1944. Each sortie was an operation in its own right, and had to be dealt with individually. This Profile provides the necessary facts, supplemented by the personal stories of some of those who took part, and includes a large number of photographs including a collection contributed by Piotr Hodyra, relating to the squadron’s ‘C’ Flight, manned by Polish aircrew, between April and November 1943. 8.5 in x 11 in. £15 / US$ 20.
207 Squadron Bomber Command Squadron Profile
The Second World War was a year old by the time that 207 Squadron came into existence for the third time, having been disbanded in January 1920, before being reformed within two weeks and remaining in existence until April 1940.
Despite operating Fairey Battles in a training role at the outbreak of war, the squadron was not sent to France, and was employed as a Group Pool training unit until being absorbed into 12 Operational Training Unit in April 1940. It remained on the shelf until its resurrection on the 1st of November 1940, as the 5 Group squadron selected to introduce the new Avro Manchester twin-engine heavy bomber into operational service. It was intended to replace the Hampden medium bomber, with which the group had been equipped since 1938, but problems with the Rolls-Royce Vulture engines soon became manifest, and this would lead to a delay in beginning operations and frequent groundings during its short service life. During this period, 207 Squadron became the destination for many of the finest pilots and crews in 5 Group, some of whom moved on to 97 Squadron to assist in its reformation as the second Manchester Unit.
207 Squadron soldiered on with the type until early 1942, when the four-engine Lancaster, born out of the failure of the Manchester, and destined to become the finest bomber in the European theatre, began to re-equip 5 Group. From that point on, 207 Squadron took its place at the forefront of the Command’s major campaigns, contributing to those, in particular in 1943 against the Ruhr, Hamburg and Berlin, and, in 1944, against Berlin, pre-invasion railway and coastal battery targets, flying bomb sites, canals, oil and tactical support for the ground forces. It ended the war with a fine record of service, of which those associated with it can be justly proud.
8.5 x 11 inches, 435 pages, fully illustrated. £18
Polish airmen came to Britain in 1939 and 1940 with a burning anger, which could only be assuaged through the avenging of the injustices visited upon their people and homeland by the Nazi regime. Unlike the British, who only anticipated invasion, the people of Poland had experienced it in all its hateful forms, and its people continued to suffer under the merciless yoke of tyranny. What the Poles asked for was simple; to be given the means to hit back, and from the moment this was provided, they launched themselves at every opportunity with a fanatical, yet measured, determination, never doubting the eventual outcome, or their ability to help bring it about. It was a case of small beginnings, four squadrons formed in the north Warwickshire countryside during the summer of 1940, equipped with outdated, ill-equipped Fairey Battles, a type effectively knocked out of the Battle of France with catastrophic casualties in less than a week’s fighting. The arrival of the Wellington towards the end of 1940 provided a greater punch, and for the next three years 300 Squadron carried on with this trusty type, as a front-line bomber unit in 1 Group, and then predominantly on mining duties as the Wellington approached the end of its operational life. The dwindling number of Polish aircrew led to the disbandment of one Polish squadron, while another was posted to Coastal Command, and, eventually one to the 2nd Tactical Air Force. This left 300 Squadron to fly the flag for Poland in Bomber Command and the passion, commitment to the cause, raw courage and press-on spirit of the airmen who served with 300 Squadron may occasionally have been equalled, but never surpassed. Their deeds will live on as part of the glorious history of RAF Bomber Command. Chris Ward's detailed narrative is complemented by numerous previously-unseen photographs from Grzegor Korcz. 8.5 in x 11 in. £15 / US$ 20.
514 Squadron Profile
by Chris Ward and Simon Hepworth
Formed as part of the expansion of Bomber Command, 514 Squadron served in the RAF’s No. 3 Group between September 1943 and August 1945. After a short period of operations from RAF Foulsham, the squadron transferred to its permanent home at RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, in December 1943, some aircraft travelling from the old base to the new via a raid on Berlin. The squadron only operated Avro Lancasters, initially the Bristol Hercules-powered MkII and then the more usual Merlin-powered Mks I and III. After its baptism of fire in the Battle of Berlin through the winter of 1943/4, 514 Squadron went on to play a pivotal role in softening up strategic targets ahead of D-Day, then supporting the Allied bridgehead in Normandy, before reverting to attacks on German infrastructure, including transport facilities and oil production plants. The unit specialised in blind bombing techniques in the drawn out and bloody campaign against Nazi Germany, culminating in deploying the highly accurate Gee-H equipment.Its aircrew members were drawn not just from Britain but also Canada, Australia, and New Zealand amongst others. The heroism of their crews was every bit as prevalent as the exploits in more celebrated squadrons and tales abound of unbelievable courage, ingenuity, and sheer guts. The squadron’s service life was only eighteen months but its contribution, and the sacrifice of its crews, was considerable. Over the course of 222 operations 514 Squadron's Lancasters dropped nearly fifteen thousand tons of bombs at a cost of 90 aircraft lost due to enemy action or crashes. Some 437 members of the squadron gave their lives in the cause of our freedom with many others suffering serious injuries.A welcome addition to the Bomber Command Squadron Profiles series, this volume has been written by Chris Ward, along with 514 Squadron researcher and historian Simon Hepworth. It benefits from access to the archive of documents and photographs collated in conjunction with veterans, families, and the Waterbeach Military Heritage Museum.
11 in x 8 1/2 in., 227 pages. £15.00 plus delivery.
Fiction on a Theme of the Second World War
Dead men told no tales… until now. Imagine setting out in a bomber, night after night, knowing that the might of the Luftwaffe is hell-bent on killing you… …parachuting from a blazing bomber into enemy territory, having just bombed a nearby city… …deciding, day by day, which of your crews you will send out, probably to their deaths, not knowing their fate until they let you know… …having a date with the Chop Girl… …spending the rest of time haunting your former airfield after failing to return from those ops. What’s not to like? In the Second World War more than sixty thousand aircrew of Bomber Command lost their lives on operations or in training. Mostly young and energetic, they died suddenly and traumatically. No spirits could have more reason to remain attached to the places where they lived the last few weeks or months of their earthly lives before they disappeared into the night. Simon Hepworth’s latest paranormal tales put a new spin on the sightings, myths and legends of phantom airmen at old RAF stations across England.
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