Saturday, January 09, 2010

The SAAF at war

Just received three books from South Africa:
1. The Aegean Pirates - The History of 15 Squadron SAAF in WW2 by Dr Stefaan Bouwer and Dr Gerald Thompson,
2. The Men Who Went To Warsaw by Lawrence Isemonger and
3. Springbok Fighter Victory - Volume One, East Africa, 1940-1941 by Michael Schoeman.

All three, especially TAP, are well-presented. TAP appears a most comprehensive effort at around 250 pages (A4 format) and is loaded with photos and even colour plates of the various colour schemes worn by the aircraft operated by the squadron (Ju 86, Battle, Blenheim, Bisley and Baltimores ... there's A LOT of Baltimore profiles). Superb stuff. I'll certainly be reviewing this book this year.

TMWWTW, which I keep calling The Men Who Flew To Warsaw, is Volume 12 of the African Aviation Series (SFV is Vol 11 but Vol 1 of, er, a series within a series) and I have yet to see a book that has more pics of RAF-style Libs in it (happy to be proven wrong!). The author was a member of 31 Squadron's ground crew and has written the book as a tribute to the men of the squadron particularly those who gave their lives trying to supply the Warsaw Uprising. The appendices are a joy to behold with details of crew and aircraft.

Finally, SFV (published in 2002) delves into a forgotten part of the air war on the African continent - East Africa. Active over Somalia, Abyssinia etc, the South Africans found their Furies (oh my!), Gauntlets, Gladiators and very early Hurricanes up against the slightly more modern Italian Air Force. Loaded with some amazing photos that most of us certainly won't have seen, this book also includes an appendix giving a brief service bio of each pilot who flew in the campaign. Pen and Sword published Air War In East Africa 1940-1941 (by Canwell and Sutherland) earlier last year and while this would no doubt include some of the detail in SFV it would certainly make a good companion for the South African book. Above all else it is very pleasing to see this much-neglected campaign, and the men involved, receive the attention it, and they, deserve.

If anyone can let me know of other books on the SAAF during the war I would be most grateful. These are the first ones in my collection. The above books were bought from the The Airforce Shop in SA - http://www.saairforce.co.za/shop/index.php

The They Gave Me A Seafire review is coming. Honestly!

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