Thursday, January 12, 2017

One Life Left - Hugh Garlick DFC

Nimrods, Swordfish and Beaufighters. Sold? Thought so. However, what is a little odd is that this delightful book is available via Lulu so is, effectively self-published. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that as it is a beautiful piece of work that would put many publishers to shame. It is comparable to Owen Zupp’s Without Precedent which is currently my benchmark when it comes to self-published titles. I do despair, however, as sometimes books such as this don’t receive the exposure they deserve. That can be said for a lot of things, hence the cult followings various forms of entertainment receive, but the breadth of appeal within the pages of One Life Left suggests it could be sold to almost any aviation enthusiast. I am not aware of its sale figures, and it is available in quality digital formats too, but I have certainly not seen it at every turn as I do with some titles. Fleet Air Arm, Gibraltar, Scotland, Malta: the ingredients for what should be a best seller that will have you fascinated and rolling in the aisles.

Hugh Garlick joined the RAF in 1935 and completed his flying training with a rating of ‘Exceptional’. This garnered him a coveted position with No. 56 Squadron, then flying Gloster Gauntlets. A minor error in judgment, unfortunately performed at the 1936 Hendon Air Display, led to him being posted to the Fleet Air Arm. At the time, with the Royal Navy still heavily populated with Admirals and other old salts who clung to the notion of the battleship and regarded naval aviation as mere support for the big guns, and an RAF insisting that it was the sole provider of military aviation strength, there were many RAF aircrew flying from the decks of carriers. Ground crew were RAF and non-pilot aircrew such as observers were invariably naval types. This confusion of responsibilities and experience, coupled with some very entrenched and backward views from higher up, did little to prepare the Fleet Air Arm for what was coming.

The author soon finds himself on board HMS Glorious and heading to the Mediterranean and, specifically, Malta. The cruises appear quite idyllic with much drinking and merriment during port visits and a bit of flying here and there. That latter point is important as the lack of flying hours allocated to the Hawker Nimrods and Ospreys of Garlick’s squadron indicates the navy’s opinion of an embarked fighter force at the time. In the eighteen months spent in the Med, the fighters were used for defensive purposes during only a handful of combined fleet ops. The captain of the Glorious at the time was a strong supporter of naval aviation and the ship, as per Graham Drucker’s Wings over the Waves, was a happy ship although, admittedly, Drucker was writing from the point of view of his uncle, Swordfish legend Roy Baker-Falkner, who flew an aircraft that was always gainfully employed when embarked.

With war approaching, there is much dashing about, urgent recalls and, after a series of 31 loops without losing height, a bout of appendicitis that, due to complications, saw Garlick languish in hospital for what was a frustrating end to his time with the Fleet Air Arm.

What followed, however, was the result of having to be sent somewhere, anywhere. With hundreds of hours on single seat fighters, one would assume Garlick would be an ideal fit for Fighter Command. Not so as he was posted to Gibraltar, arriving shortly after the war began, to command a flight of three target drogue towing Swordfish floatplanes on anti-submarine duty.

If anything, this period only serves to make this book even more fascinating. This is quite likely the only personal account of flying Swordfish from The Rock and it is as entertaining as it is insightful. While the ‘Stringbag’ excelled at almost everything thrown at it, it did so without dash and excitement. A fine aeroplane, it was quite literally a plodder. Still, it was the start of the war and whatever was on hand had to fill the breech until they could be replaced. Garlick took to his command with determination tinged slightly by incredulity. The Swordfish had their towing winches removed, racks hung under the wings for 250lb bombs, winch operators trained as WOp/AGs and the forward firing Vickers gun harmonised. They saw no action against submarines, but the author felt they at least contributed to protecting the ships passing through the Straits. While this part of the book is a good look at day-to-day life on Gib, it is also a wonderful illustration of the make-do/can-do attitude and there are some superb passages of the challenges of operating floatplanes for extended periods of time. It was certainly no picnic.

Such was the leadership and initiative shown by Garlick that he was awarded the DFC although it completely mystified him as to how he had earned it. It was still 1940 and he was volunteering for all manner of jobs in an attempt to get into the war proper. In the end, he was due for a rest and after a stint in ops rooms, returned to the UK, converted to Beaufighters and took command of No. 235 Squadron in late 1941. Based in Scotland, the squadron converted to Beaufighters from the end of the year and began operations over the North Sea to Norway and the fjords. It was a hard existence as the sandy airfield was not conducive to high performance aero engines and when it snowed, it really snowed. Still, as ever, Garlick simply got on with the job with what he had and even, so the story goes, oversaw the fitting of Lewis guns in the observer’s cupola for rear defence.

In the middle of 1942, the squadron was sent to Malta to provide fighter cover for two convoys attempting to resupply the besieged island. Returning to his old stomping grounds, the author expected a short stay but, as with any aircraft and crew arriving on the island, AVM Hugh Lloyd got his hooks into the Beaufighters and Garlick’s stay extended to six weeks of escort work for convoys and Beauforts alike. When he returned to the UK, he finally went through modern single engine fighter training and became a chief instructor at an OTU. He ended the war as the Fleet Aviation Officer on HMS Rodney out of Scapa Flow.

If you like adventure, a delightful take on the work hard/play harder mentality and just good, entertaining writing, then this is the book for you. While Garlick flew a lot of ops and was a supremely skilled pilot, there’s not much detail on them. If anything, especially the time on Beaus, they’re mentioned in passing, as anecdotes, as he paints a broader picture of being in command of a squadron and the challenges that entails. The narrative puts the reader at ease with its eloquence, humour, honesty and self-deprecation. It is classic RAF. That’s probably the best way to put it.

There is a very good photo section containing more than fifty images from throughout the timeline covered by the book. They are printed on the same paperstock as the text so the reproduction is not right up there, but it is sufficient and there are some superb photos specific to Garlick’s career so have in all likelihood not been seen before. The reproduction is probably a product of publishing through Lulu, but, that said, the entire package is impressive. I bought the hardback and it a lovely looking book. All of the design work, including the superbly laid out electronic editions, was done by the author’s nephew, John Hooton, who is the driving force behind this book. While the manuscript existed and the photos remained with the family, it was John who pulled it all together to produce one of the best reading experiences I have had since starting ABR.

As this is a print on demand title, it has the benefit of never being out of print. It certainly doesn’t deserve to be, such is its quality, uniqueness and pure entertainment value. Garlick’s turn of phrase will often crack a smile, if not an audible response and there were several occasions, particularly during Christmas 1938, that I was in stitches. Before writing this review, and after referring to my notes, I went back to Christmas 1938 and was similarly entertained. The sequence of parties, quasi-recoveries, and more parties is something almost unique to aircrew types, particularly the ability to recount the misadventures in such a way that you didn’t have to be there to get it. It is typical aircrew hi-jinks, to use an oft-repeated term, that is always told best by those who were a part of it.

An endless stream of superlatives could be rattled off to try to describe the wonderful reading experience this book provides. Not much else can be said other than this is a book not to be missed.

ISBN 978-1-4466-2884-3

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Riding in the Shadow of Death - Chris Keltie

Another book about Bomber Command. A bad thing? Of course not and stop reading if you think it is! With more than 120,000 aircrew flying operations, Bomber Command is easily the largest source of stories about RAF and Commonwealth aircrew. Therefore, there should be a lot of books. In fact, since the aircrew are finally receiving the widespread attention they deserve, admittedly when it’s almost too late, there is a seemingly endless (hopefully) supply of these books. As ever, they all vary in style and content, but all with aspects that are repeated, and the material available to an author can range from feast to famine. However, imagine living next door to a veteran, I’m sure many of you have, and slowly learning about his war and, as a consequence, becoming immersed in the world of Bomber Command. Imagine too that your research would also benefit said veteran by reuniting him with members of his crew. Chris Keltie, author of Riding in the Shadow of Death, the story of Bill North’s No. 61 Squadron Lancaster crew, has experienced all of that and more.

Chris grew up in the house next door to the Norths and they remained close friends until Bill’s passing in 2011. Over those forty years, the author grew from an inquisitive child, asking about a photo of a Stirling, to an eternally inquiring adult neck deep in all things Bomber Command. Books of this genre, especially those about the bomber crews, need to be written with heart, and it is here in spades.

There was nothing extraordinary about the North crew. They were simply one of many, many Lancaster crews doing their jobs to the best of their abilities despite what they encountered night after night. That in itself, of course, makes them extraordinary, so let’s just say they were ordinary in their extraordinariness. They came together in the usual ways, through a variety of training paths around the world, and became one of the most remarkable things to ever be produced by the air war – a seven-man bomber crew that, for all intents and purposes, had bonds stronger than that of a family such was their reliance and trust in each other. Again, this is not something new within the confines of Bomber Command reading, but it is rarely told with such care and attention by someone who has not lived it.

Battling their way through operational training and the Heavy Conversion Unit, the North crew joined 61 Squadron and, after Bill’s second dickie trip, flew their first op in mid-May 1944. By the end of the month they had flown five ops and, indicating the increased tempo in support of the Normandy landings, had completed sixteen by the end of June. Number seventeen, however, was to be their undoing. Attacking a V-1 site hidden in caves near St Leu, France, the North crew successfully delivered their bombs, but were attacked by a night fighter on the way home. The first attack knocked out the port inner and wounded the mid-upper gunner, Dennis Bartlett, and Bill, who was badly hit. With a shattered and useless left arm and two bullets through his left thigh, the pilot stayed at the controls, while continuing to try to evade the fighter’s fire, to allow his crew to abandon the aircraft. It was only when he realised he had three of his crew still on board, one of whom had lost his parachute to the gunfire, that he decided to attempt to put the ailing bomber down. That he did, in his condition, was nothing short of miraculous and there are equally amazing photos, one of which is on the cover, to prove just how good a forced landing it was.

Two of the three men who rode the Lanc down with Bill refused to leave his side. In the end, five members of the North crew were taken into captivity while the other two successfully evaded. The POWs of the crew would eventually endure The Long March, but all made it home.

It is a fascinating tale of a devoted bomber crew that is made more so by the efforts of the author to not only draw everything together, but the coincidences and reunions that came about as a result of recording, researching and writing it. No (more) spoilers here, but it gladdens the heart when old crewmembers see each other again after decades.

On the strength of that summary, and it should be noted that there is some good detail about the crew’s time as POWs, this is a Bomber Command story that needs to be in the collections of all students of the campaign. However, in the interests of honest reviewing, which ABR is all about, this could be one of the most frustrating narratives currently available. The author is at one with Bomber Command, not an easy thing to do and something that takes years, which many would-be writers don’t necessarily understand. It is the editing that completely and utterly lets the book down. It actually elicited several vocal responses of despair!

Everything you can think of error-wise when it comes to aircrew books is present here on almost every page. Names are spelt inconsistently, aircraft are incorrectly identified, people are mentioned or referenced with no introduction as to where they fit in the story (or their significance), typos abound, photos and details in the text are repeated, and some images are too small to be of any use. The narrative contains too many little diversions, or interruptions, to maintain a flow that builds to the eventual crash landing and, because of these diversions, the repetition comes into play as main characters are reintroduced or the reader is reminded where the crew is up to in their tour.  As an example, the crew’s memories and notes (mainly from the pilot and the Australian bomb aimer, Norman Jarvis) about their first op are riveting, but, for some reason, the narrative goes off on a tangent to discuss flak and then, three pages later, takes two pages to discuss Scarecrows and night fighters. At this stage of the book, more than 120 pages in, the reader has heavily invested in the crew as, despite the faults encountered to this stage, the warmth and heart with which the narrative has been written is prominent. The chapter before the last op is a well-written and welcome discussion of the roles of the ground crew. It is a great tribute to read, but, again, it gets in the way. You want to know how the crew got on. Indeed, you are itching to know and to read about aspects of the bomber campaign that should have been discussed earlier or even in notes or an appendix, is frustrating. If anything, it does make you read on, but there are so many of these interruptions that the book almost develops a staccato quality. It all works, but it is often hard to make the leap to connect it.

A lot of this information, what makes up the interruptions, had to be included, however. Bomber Command readers are going to pick this book up. At the same time, however, it has to appeal to those with little to no idea of what Bomber Command was all about. It is perhaps a case of trying to fit too much, and there is a lot once you dig into the bomber war, into the narrative. More use of notes and appendices would have removed the more cumbersome passages with the flick of an annotation. The focus can then be on the North crew. Just as importantly, the relevant memories of the veterans the author met in the course of his research can also shine through when there is less clutter. One pilot, although from another squadron, flew on many of the same ops as the North crew so his memories are particularly significant as they lend another viewpoint and context.

The North crew lost their flight engineer early on after he cracked up. Rather than be tarred with the dreaded LMF brush, the wing commander takes him on and gets him through his tour. This says a lot about both men and is certainly a rare account. There are gems like this dotted throughout the book, an indication that it holds a lot of merit, but you have to have your wits about you, lest you miss them, as the narrative jumps around.

After all that, should you consider this book? Absolutely! Notwithstanding the myriad of problems (many caused by the mad scramble after the manuscript was corrupted shortly before going to print), this is such a great story. As I said above, it’s yet another Lancaster crew who were shot down. Lots of correlation with everything you have read on the subject to date. Their survival, in no small part due to the skill and determination of their pilot, meant this story could be told at length rather than being forgotten or mentioned in passing. Survival is key, but so is the ability of the author to tackle the mountain of information while keeping a handle on the emotion that inevitably comes with delving into Bomber Command. His research led to life-long friends being made and old crewmates being reunited. However, there is always death with Bomber Command. Indeed, that is true for all aircrew books, but a writer on the subject has to deal with wartime ghosts and, in all likelihood, based on the success of the research, has to deal with new ones as the once young men see their lives out. It is a necessary evil, always unwelcome, and the author is not afraid to let the narrative slow down and reflect on the passing of one of the ‘remarkables’. That said, sometimes a bit of distance needs to be kept to maintain objectivity despite the close relationships clearly maintained with the veterans.

A second edition of this book is currently underway. The author is aware of the issues the first edition has and is working to rectify them. Interestingly and excitingly, he has gained the support of one W.R. Chorley (of Bomber Command Losses fame). To have such an eminent historian on board is nothing short of stupendous and really hammers home just how good this story is. The book is rough around the edges, but that sort of thing can be tidied up with dedication that is certainly not lacking here. It is the tale of the North crew that truly shines and it is fair to say that this is only the beginning for Riding in the Shadow of Death.

ISBN 978-0-9571189-1-1

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Images of War: Veteran Lancs - Norman Franks

Adam Purcell is a young professional working in the Australian aviation industry and absolutely committed to recording the history of Bomber Command however he can. This fascination came from discovering, as a child, that his great uncle ‘Jack’ had been a Lancaster navigator with No. 467 Squadron. Adam’s research leads him far and wide as he pieces together the story of his uncle’s crew and this has grown to interviewing Bomber Command veterans on behalf of the International Bomber Command Centre. Be sure to check out his blog Something Very Big. Few people live and breathe Bomber Command like Adam, hardly any his age, so he is the perfect guest reviewer for this title which, incidentally, would make a decent companion to Franks’ earlier studies in this area, Arms & Armour’s Claims to Fame – The Lancaster from 1994, and the 2015 revised edition of the same from Grub Street, Ton-Up Lancs.

The average Lancaster bomber, flying operations during the war, could expect to return from about twenty trips before crashing or being shot down. So it’s no surprise to learn that out of more than 7,000 examples of arguably Avro’s most famous aeroplane, just 35 are known to have flown on more than 100 raids. In Veteran Lancs, the prolific and widely respected Norman Franks shares the stories of all of those centenarian Lancasters, while also featuring a number of others that ‘almost’ made it to the ton.

The book, a mid-sized paperback of 166 pages, is packed full of facts and figures, and there’s no doubt Franks has done a lot of research. He follows the careers of some pilots, sometimes going beyond the time when they were flying the aircraft concerned, and even names members of groundstaff where they are known. Some of the featured aircraft – like R5868 ‘S-Sugar’ or EE139 ‘Phantom of the Ruhr’ – are quite famous, but most of them are far less well known. Therein lies both the strength and limitation of this book. Including the less-famous aircraft tells a part of the Bomber Command story that isn’t as widely known, and that can only be a good thing. It follows, however, that there is also less information available on some of them. What sources there are sometimes conflict about exactly how many operations some aircraft flew on, and there’s occasional uncertainty about which trip was the hundredth, a legacy of the variable quality of operational record keeping on wartime squadrons. Franks is mostly quite open about what he has and has not been able to definitively determine, but in some places he has fallen into the trap of supposing and assuming, where there perhaps wasn’t quite enough detail in the records. He uses vague sentences like “…no doubt because she was starting to become unreliable and a bit ‘dodgy’” or “after a bit of a refit”. It sometimes reads as filler.

Veteran Lancs feels a little repetitive, with each aircraft profile following much the same routine – this is always a difficulty with what is essentially a book of lists. Perhaps in an effort to break up the monotony, Franks has split his book into chronological chapters. There are large sections of text that each cover, say, half-a-dozen Lancs, and then several pages of photographs featuring each of those aircraft before the next chapter begins. This brings another slight annoyance: having conquered big slabs of unbroken text, by the time you reach the photos you’ve forgotten which aircraft belongs to which. It would have been less confusing, I think, if the photos had been spread out among the relevant sections of the text.

The book is billed as a “photographic record”, so it’s the images themselves that are perhaps of most interest. While Franks has included several well-known photos, he has also drawn extensively from a very large collection of images that have never before been published. The sheer variety is a strength of the book, and there are some outstanding photos among them. Most of the photos appear to come out of the author’s own collection, which he notes has been assembled over several decades, and the final section (a potted collection of nineteen ‘almost-centenarians’) is particularly interesting. In places the reproduction, which is just on the standard paper stock, is not of the most impressive quality, but bearing in mind the varying condition of original wartime prints, it may well be that this was as good as was possible.

Veteran Lancs, as a straight record of the 35 highest-scoring Lancasters, is a reasonable effort. It’s not a particularly exciting book to read, but it does illustrate the hitherto-untold stories of several very high-achieving bombers and their crews, and for that it deserves credit.

ISBN 978-1-47384-726-2

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Radar Gunner - Dick Dakeyne DFC

It’s not common knowledge, although it is relatively well documented, that RAAF personnel served with USAAF units in the Pacific theatre, particularly in New Guinea. They flew mainly with bomber and transport crews and were on strength to make up for an early shortfall in American crews or to provide a bit of local knowledge. Ernest C. Ford, C-47 veteran and author of My New Guinea Diary, regularly flew with an Australian co-pilot. As the war progressed, and the RAAF succeeded in acquiring its own Pacific-based heavy bomber force, entire crews within USAAF Liberator units were made up of Australians as they gained experience (many had already flown with Bomber Command in Europe) flying very long range bombing operations. As I said above, this has been researched to a degree and books by the likes of Steve Birdsall, Michael Musumeci, and the team led by Lawrence Hickey, provide an extent to which these secondments were practiced.

What is interesting with Dick Dakeyne’s Radar Gunner, however, is that the overwhelming majority of his operational flying, two tours’ worth, was with a number of USAAF units as a member of several crews. Dick was a specially trained RAAF Wireless Air Gunner who had proven his mettle beyond air firing to the point that he was selected to train on the Australian-designed SN2 Ultra High Frequency receiver. The job of this ‘box of tricks’ was to detect Japanese radar transmissions from ground-based stations. With careful listening, minor adjustments to the aircraft’s course and co-operation among the crew, the position of the radar station could be estimated. As the Liberator hadn’t been designed for such a position within the crew, the operator, and his equipment, sat on what was the roof of the bomb bay. In Dick’s case, hence the title of this excellent book, he also manned a defensive gun position.

Growing up in Sydney, almost unrecognisable to today’s metropolis, the author’s childhood seems to have been a fairly standard one, living frugally during The Depression, but certainly with tonnes of fun to be had in the outdoors and among the neighbourhood kids. His was one of swimming, backyard cricket, model aeroplanes, stamp collecting and the rest. War was declared just before he left school in 1939 and, not wanting to wait to be old enough to join the Army, Dick volunteered for the RAAF and was naturally disappointed when he wasn’t selected to be a pilot. He volunteered for training in Queensland, having not been quick enough to get to the front for a Canadian posting, simply because he’d never been there.

Dick proved proficient at everything he learned hence his selection for training on the SN2. What he didn’t know then, and it was never made official, was that he was destined to be a member of the highly secretive, multinational, multiservice ‘Section 22’. This later became the Radar Countermeasures Unit and, although he doesn’t mention it, Dick, with his two tours, was to become one of its outstanding operators.

Training complete, Dick’s first posting was to Fenton in the Northern Territory. Initially settling in with the 319th Bomb Squadron of the 90th Bomb Group, Dick and his colleague stayed put when that unit was replaced by elements of the 380th BG. Fenton and, subsequently, Corunna Downs (near Marble Bar in Western Australia), must have been a culture shock for the boy from Sydney despite his love of the outdoors. Corunna Downs was a secret base heavily used by USAAF Liberators and never discovered by the Japanese. It is hard, but ruggedly beautiful, country and the perfect location for a secret airfield, but woe betide the crew that came down in the bush.

Dick flew his first mission on 26 May 1943. It was a long-distance reconnaissance of Surabaya in Java that was aborted after two hours. The fifteen-hour trip was completed several days later. That sort of flying time was to become standard for the crews and was the reason why the Liberator was such a valuable aircraft in the theatre. There was really no other aircraft available in significant numbers at the time, save the Catalina, that had a comparable range and payload.

A bit of an ‘odd bod’, initially flying with whatever crews needed a man, Dick managed to become a permanent part of the crew whose regular aircraft turned out to be the one Dick had flown his first missions in. He became an integral member of the crew, fulfilling both the RCM role and that of a waist gunner, and was really just one of the boys despite having to keep a large portion of his duties secret from the rest of his crew.

Caught in a raid in Darwin where, along with other enlisted men of his unit, he was helping unload a ship, Dick saved the life of an American gunner, but suffered minor shrapnel wounds to his hands. He returned to Fenton five weeks later, in August, to get on with his tour. What followed was a mix of shipping strikes, armed reconnaissances and numerous encounters with Japanese fighters. It was dangerous work. Before Dick’s sojourn in Darwin, his RAAF RCM colleague was killed on his second op and his eventual replacement, arriving in October, was lost in mid-November.

Returning for a second tour with the 530th BS, 380th BG, in January 1944, Dick joined another crew as the unit’s focus switched to denying the Japanese fighters from using the airfields along New Guinea’s northern coast. Interestingly, and an indication of the improving training regime and supply of equipment, Dick was accompanied by four new RAAF RCM operators. He was eventually transferred to the 90th BG at Biak, off the north coast of New Guinea, in August. After three months there, and a mere six missions, Dick bounced around a few postings, got married and was awarded the DFC before he was discharged. Post-war life saw him become a qualified geographer. He saw Kenya and New Guinea before establishing a career teaching geography until retirement in the late 1970s.

For a hardcover book of a little over 140 pages, Radar Gunner packs a hell of a punch. That said, once that final page is read, you are left wanting more. Much like Dick, there are no pretensions in the writing. It is straight-forward and highly entertaining. While a timeline is obviously followed, the narrative does not consist of a series of rigidly sequential anecdotes. Every mission is certainly not recounted in detail. Rather, the highlights of several come to the fore, indicative of the recorded interviews that were to prove the genesis of the book. There are few accounts of missions from take off to landing as, really, there is only so much that can be said before each trip begins to resemble the previous one. The editors, Craig Bellamy and publisher David Welch, include a light dusting of context, but the text never gets weighed down by a desire to paint the strategic picture at the time. Instead, it is all Dick Dakeyne. He doesn’t get terribly introspective, however, and never mentions being afraid or the fear of not coming back despite the fact the threat was real as sadly experienced by at least two of his fellow RCM operators.

Many of the photographs are from Dick’s own collection so it is likely they have not been seen or published before. Every single image is nicely reproduced with a fine balance of operational subjects (strikes, formations, maps, targets) and squadron life making up the majority. It is the latter portion that is of particular value. The USAAF Liberator units were a special part of Australia’s war, more so because they were based here, and remain highly regarded both here and in the US. To see an Australian’s photographic record of life with one of these units is worth its weight on gold. Combined with a great amount of written detail about living with the Americans, and the differences in their culture, food, equipment and opinions, makes Radar Gunner the most significant RAAF biography to be written in quite some time. It really is that good. While comparing the ‘Yanks’ to the RAAF way of doing things is not new, the presentation in this book, both in writing and images, while nothing fancy, is so well done that it makes the entire package something truly special.

This is not a big book nor is it a comprehensive biography that leaves no stone unturned. It is, however, as close to perfect as you could get for a widely appealing tale of an Australian airman in relatively unusual circumstances. Production is really tight and there are no typos or glaring errors. The text includes a few little quirks – such as names or units in bold when first mentioned or a small sketch of a cross bearing “Lest We Forget” next to the description of the loss of a colleague – but these are actually nice little touches that help to make the book stand out. It is, quite simply, a remarkable tale well told in a very enjoyable, easy to read and pleasant format. The best RAAF memoir I have read for a while.

ISBN 978-098713896-5