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Rearming the RAF for the Second World War: Poor Strategy and Miscalculation - Adrian Phillips

Rearming the RAF for the Second World War: Poor Strategy and Miscalculation - Adrian Phillips

Firstly, my most sincere apologies for this review taking so long. I have been unwell and have had a treasured cousin pass away. I hope the delay hasn’t caused any problems.

What was delivered was a physically large and heavy book, but it was the strap line ‘Poor Strategy & Miscalculation’ that caught my eye. The book turned out to be very well researched and written in an easy-going style that I really wish my history teachers had been able to call upon when I was at school. The author is generous in his praise for those that assisted him in his research, much of which was carried out during the various COVID lockdowns that we suffered. But yet again, this author (like others) has proven that good things could still be achieved with a little planning and forethought.

My usual gripe about the positioning of the pictures holds firm, and I must be frank, I really don’t feel that the chosen pictures add much to the text. But that little gripe is realistically the worst I can offer. The author has put together a very good bibliography and done himself a disservice by describing it as ‘selected’. There are adequate notes supplementing the main text, a very useful list of abbreviations, a table containing RAF ranks covering the era under discussion; and finally, a few pages of ‘Dramatis Personae’ covering the key players. I would personally have appreciated pictures of these key players alongside their descriptions as I feel it would have added a little something that I felt missing.

This is the author’s 3rd book, the other two featuring information from the same pre-WW2 era. The book is an entertaining read and the introductory text, ‘Why the few were so few’ effectively sets the tone of the book.

I’d like to borrow this line from my last review… ‘This book is about bravery, injustice, conquest and incompetence’ because we see all of this (and more) in this book too. There is what I can only call a ‘classic line’ that we use bombers to fight bombers, what would we want fighters for? It was this blinkered attitude that left the RAF so starved of fighters because bombers were seen as everything.

It often boils down to the old story of too many chiefs and not enough Indians, along with all the usual political shenanigans and self-interested infighting.

The fact that we triumphed in the Battle of Britain is largely testament to the pilots and crews, rather than any direction and planning from politicians and Whitehall. Many politicians and Whitehall staff ought to have hung their collective miserable heads in shame, as they cost us a lot of lives due to their incompetence and general vacillation.

The whole sorry episode reminded me of a plaque I inherited in my first managerial position… We have done so much with so little for so long, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.

I’m going to run to 4 anchors on this very engaging book, and at the time of writing this review, the book is discounted by 18% from £25 to £20.50, which I feel is very good value.

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