'Men Of Air' The Doomed Youth of Bomber Command

Discussion in 'History' started by shellbackmac, Sep 18, 2008.

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  1. I am reading the above named book (written by Kevin Wilson) at the moment and would recommend it to other RR'rs. Its about the bomber campaign towards the end of the war and is mostly eyewitness accounts. Amazing to think that vast amounts of officer and NCO aircrew were in their teens and early twenties and were all volunteers despite the truly shocking survivability rates. Approximately 110, 000 aircrew served in Bomber Command and they suffered 55,000 fatalities, not injuries or POW,s, thats just deaths - truly shocking. Despite the horrors all the way through the book there are some fantastic escape stories. One SGT is shot down and captured and when he is brought before the local Gestapo for questionng the interviewing officer's first words are ' For you the war is over!' to which the RAF bloke pisses himself laughing as he thought it was a British urban myth that this is what the Germans said!

    Another recent paperback is 'Eigth Air Force' (The American Bomber Crews in Britain) by Donald L. Miller which is the yank take on things, the same horror stories and terrible casualty rates but all of theirs taking place in broad daylight as night bombing was left to the RAF. There is a photo of the remains of a gun turret situated in the belly of a Flying Fortress, the unfortunate gunner was trapped inside due to mechanical failure and then another failure prevented the undercarriage from being lowered. The poor bloke accepted his fate and told the pilot to get on with belly landing the damaged aircraft.

    Both worth a read
     

  2. As a kid I lived on the Cornish side of Plymouth Sound and dived on the wreck of 49 Squadron Lancaster ED450 EA-G which crashed just inside the breakwater. Desperately sad - the young 7 man crew had hit the U-Boat pens at Lorient and were badly shot up and trying to reach their emergency divert airfield at Harrowbeer/Yelverton. No-one survived and no bodies were ever recovered:-

    F/Sgt. G B C Miller
    Sgt. S. Young
    F/O. R. Allin
    Sgt. W. Noble
    Sgt. K. Hands
    Sgt. W. Halsall
    Sgt. F H Allen

    Here's the list of "lost bombers'. It tells a story:-

    http://www.lostbombers.co.uk/results.php?type=Lancaster&pagefrom=1

    RM
     
  3. Cheers for that link Bergen, have used it to follow up on a few of the bomber crews mentioned in the book.
     
  4. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Near where I lived as a child, a bomber crashed in nearby woods. The pilot, his aircraft on fire, had first circled to let his crew jump for it, then aimed his burning aircraft for a spot clear of the village to avoid casualties on the ground. By this time his seat harness was on fire. When the plane hit - still being flown - he was catapulted through the windscreen and decapitated - as his harness had burnt through just before the impact. Just one of the 55,000.

    A cousin of mine who was in Pathfinders says he always preferred his Halifax as the escape hatch was bigger. He figures that a lot of men got trapped in Lancasters because they couldn't get through the hatch in time. He was on a Tirpitz raid in 1942, barrelling along a fjord at night at 50 feet when the Halifax immediately astern of his was blown to pieces by a bomb from a Lancaster from another squadron which was late over the target, bombing from altitude.

    He always packed his own parachute after a check turned up a pack with a blanket inside instead of the chute, which had been stolen.
     
  5. Came across a paragraph that sums up to me what 55,000 airmen gave their lives for and is a counterpoint to those from our own country who argued and still argue that bombing Nazi Germany was many things from unecessary to a war crime.


    'There is precious little equivocation among those in former occupied countries about why the bomber offensive was fought; the humming of hundreds of Lancasters and Halifaxes heading east over their heads night after night was the sound of hope in a world of darkness, the audible proof that liberation from a terrible tyranny where human life that was not Aryan was worthless, would one day come.' Kevin Wilson

    well said that man
     

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