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.
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Bealine Charlie Oscar
The Mystery of Flight CY284
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. This speculation continues to this day. The full police and UK Home Office files are still kept out of the public domain until 2040. Officially, the police stated that there was not sufficient evidence to charge anyone with an offence. Even after half a century, the families of the lost passengers and crew were denied the crucial answers to their questions; who killed their loved ones, why, and how did they do so? Aviation writer Simon Hepworth’s book gives, for the first time, a comprehensive account of Charlie Oscar’s last flight, the recovery operation and investigation into the tragedy. Using the documents contained in The National Archives in London, along with other material, it examines what happened during the flight, the recovery operation, the accident investigation and considers the political machinations behind the scenes. With access to new information, from previously-undisclosed documents and witnesses, he pieces together the last moments of the flight and, for the first time, reveals the real motive and alleged perpetrators behind the massacre of the 66. This edition of Bealine Charlie Oscar is updated and contains information obtained since the original edition was launched in October 2018.
6 in x 9 in format, 355 pages, £15.00 / US$ 20.00 / Eu 18.00
Also available as a Kindle e-book £7.49 (now upgraded to fully illustrated edition complete with appendices).
115 Squadron Profile
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
Royal Air Force and Australian Flying Corps Squadron Losses 1st July - 11th November 1918
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. 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 covered 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 unique two-volume title 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. 485 pages. £15 / US$20.
In 2008 Graham Clayton published Last Stand in Singapore: The Story of 488 Squadron RNZAF. After the fall of Singapore, the squadron was disbanded, then subsequently reformed in the UK in June 1942 as an RAF unit, 488 (New Zealand) Squadron. Its role was to take on the German Luftwaffe in the night skies over the UK and Europe. Gone the Dark Night is the long-awaited sequel and completes the wartime history of 488 Squadron.The aircraft and equipment were rudimentary, and a huge effort was made to develop night fighting defences that might defeat the Luftwaffe bombers in the air after dark over the UK and Europe. Success was to be a long time in coming. Initially equipped with the Bristol Beaufighter, the unit was later supplied with the night fighter variant of the iconic de Havilland Mosquito. The crews, mostly young New Zealanders, were at the forefront of a struggle against seemingly impossible odds. From the early days they struggled to survive not only enemy attacks but also the dangers of flying at night in adverse weather conditions. At the same time, they had to become proficiency with new technology that seemed to change on a weekly basis. Teamwork was vital to the success of each operation and to ensure their own survival in the night skies. This was an occupation fraught with continuous danger; the hunter could very quickly become the hunted, and the possibility of being shot down by your own side was also very real. These young men showed a determination that ultimately gained them success and victory in Europe. Their pathway to victory was paved with a life and death struggle to gain ascendancy over a skilful and wily enemy, and much personal tragedy was encountered on the way. After half a century after they played such a large part in defeating the Luftwaffe menace, their heroism is still an example to us all.
6 in x 9 in format, 409 pages, £15.00 / US$ 20.00 / Eu 18.00 or thereabouts.
'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.
6 in x 9 in format, 271 pages, £15.00 / US$ 20.00 / Eu 18.00 or thereabouts.
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.
Compiled from the Operational Record Books of 514 Squadron and its two bases, RAF Foulsham and RAF Waterbeach, 'Nothing Can Stop Us' tells the operational history of 514 Squadron RAF, along with personal accounts from many members of the squadron and details of all casualties and losses. This is the definitive history of a typical, and unsung, Bomber Command squadron.
'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.
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.
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.
'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
617 Squadron Profile - Revised and Expanded
Please note: This book was previously published in 2018 as 'The Wartime Profile of 617 Squadron' and includes updated information.
2018 marked both the centenary of the Royal Air Force and the 75th anniversary of the formation of 617 Squadron. As is well known, the unit was formed from scratch to attack the dams of the Ruhr Valley in Germany. The mission was carried out successfully, though at the cost of eight Lancasters and 53 aircrew. 617 Squadron went on to specialise in precision attacks on the most difficult targets, including the battleship Tirpitz, which was finally sunk in a Norwegian fjord on 12th November 1944.This is the operational history of the legendary 'Dambusters', whose story has kept the spotlight on Bomber Command for so many decades. 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, and 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, and including photographs never previously published, this book sheds new light on the most famous unit in the history of aerial warfare. The original 617 Squadron Profile first appeared in the late nineties and formed the core of the author's later full histories. In updating this profile Chris has revisited some incidents to provide new detail and a better understanding of selected events. It also provides an insight into the lives of some of the countless 'ordinary' airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice. Chris Ward is an acknowledged expert on 617 Squadron and has previously written two acclaimed full 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 close 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. This commemorative volume brings together Chris’ extensive writing along with that of fellow specialists Andy Lee and Andreas Wachtel.
A4 format. 393 pages. £18 / US$22
Barry Hope's series of RAF Bomber Command squadron casualty records list for each unit every known airman and aircraft lost in the Second World War. His cataloguing system links aircrew to individual aircraft so the fate of an entire crew can be extrapolated from a single name or aircraft serial number. Presented as tables of data, the books are an excellent companion to narrative histories of the individual squadrons. Titles available to date are 57, 630, 514 and 617 Squadrons.
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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