OPS : Victory at All Costs: Operations Over Hitler's Reich with the Crews of Bomber Command 1939-1945 : Their War - Their WordsHardback
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- Publisher: Tattered Flag Press
- Format: Hardback | 472 pages
- Dimensions: 154mm x 232mm x 44mm | 839g
- Publication date: 30 October 2012
- Publication City/Country: Pulborough
- ISBN 10: 0955597765
- ISBN 13: 9780955597763
- Illustrations note: 90 b/w photos, 4 maps, 6 diagrams
- Sales rank: 151,802
Of the 125,000 men who volunteered for operations with Bomber Command during the Second World War, 55,573 were killed, the slaughter being at an almost unprecedented level. Total fatalities between 1939-45 were 452,000. Thus, approximately 13 per cent of all British and Commonwealth deaths during the Second World War were among bomber crews. These very 'ordinary men' were asked to take on an almost suicidal task and they generally volunteered for the job; a phenomenon that continued until the cessation of hostilities. But after the fighting was over, no campaign medal was ever struck for the air and ground crews of Bomber Command who had fought a six-year offensive which was instrumental in the destruction of the Third Reich. Air Marshal Arthur Harris, the Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command, never forgave the government for this. Such was his disgust at the lack of official recognition of the effort of his men that, when he was awarded the CGB in 1946, it caused him great distress and embarrassment and he refused to accept a peerage. Harris felt particularly strongly for his ground crews who had to work at all hours in often abominable conditions to keep his vitally needed aircraft flying. This book reveals the human side of the bomber crews' experience. Based upon many interviews, correspondence and archival sources, Andrew Simpson, the son of a Lancaster pilot, has compiled a compelling, informative and absorbing documentary record of what the men of Bomber Command went through - from initial training and crew formation, to descriptions of life on squadron and their extremely dangerous and draining operations, to the numbing effect of morale breakdown. The result of years of work, the book contains many personal accounts from air crew - from those who survived and those who did not - the heroism, the tragedy and the humour. The author also examines the technology of bombing and how this terrifying form of aerial warfare evolved in terms of aircraft design, navigation and tactics and as deployed by the Hampden, Whitley and Wellington medium bombers, and the Stirling, Halifax and Lancaster 'heavies' which equipped the squadrons of Bomber Command. A view of, and from, the German side is included, as are the harrowing experiences of being shot down over enemy territory and evasion both on land and by sea. The story of the prison camp experience is also recounted, examining in particular Stalag Luft III and the escapes that were made from it, including the notorious 'Great Escape' of March 1944. Running as a poignant thread through the book is the story of the author's father, who piloted Lancasters on an Australian bomber squadron and whose personal accounts form the backbone of this highly researched and often very moving book. For anyone with a desire to learn more about Britain's aircrews at war or for those seeking to understand more about the operations of Bomber Command, this book offers a unique and extraordinary insight into a momentous period of history.
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Andrew Simpson trained as an architect and has an Honours Degree in History. He served in the Parachute Regiment in the late 1970s where he 'learnt to run', while his great grandfather on his mother's side was the oldest serving Royal Navy officer during the First World War and was awarded the OBE. A Friend of the RAF Association, he has been interested in aviation and the Second World War since an early age. His fascination with T.E. Lawrence led to his first book, Another Life: Lawrence after Arabia (2008), which formed a full length examination of Lawrence's life after the First World War and his time in the RAF. As a second book, Andrew set out to record his late father's experiences as an Australian Lancaster pilot in World War Two. As part of his research, he contacted over 300 veterans of Bomber Command and interviewed some 20 or so personally to find out more about their experiences. The sum of this, together with archive research, became 'Ops': Victory at All Costs, an examination of the bomber war and all that it was like to fly on operations.