08 October 2011

The RAAF In Russia - Geoffrey W Raebel

You’d think by now, with the plethora of information out there, not to mention the archives that are available to the public, the release of new books featuring new material would become quite a rare occurrence. However with letters and diaries etc continuing to come to light this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The recent launch of The Amiens Raid is the perfect example of a book full of previously unpublished material. The forthcoming new edition of Pathfinder Cranswick, however, is an older book with new and updated material. It is the subsequent editions of books that, I reckon, prove you can’t keep a good story, or author for that matter, down. Just because an author finally has his/her work published doesn’t always mean the research on the subject matter stops. The more prolific authors are more likely to turn their considerable skills to a new project but many authors become true specialists in their chosen field and continue their passionate research. Often the publication of their work generates interest from readers who have additional knowledge and/or material previously undiscovered by the author.

Such is the case with the second edition of Geoff Raebel’s The RAAF In Russia. The original was the result of six years of Geoff’s work – and an interest stemming from listening to his father’s stories of No. 455 Squadron’s epic Russian adventure. Twelve years and even more research later, the second edition is a self-published paperback of 149 A4 pages.

Flying the Hampden, a type retired from Bomber Command, on anti-shipping torpedo strikes was not one of the ‘better’ jobs for a crew but it was a task carried out with dedication and skill. The very nature of torpedo work meant little time to recover the aircraft if it was hit during the run in (or post-drop). Any chance of a crewmember taking control of a Hampden with an incapacitated pilot was severely hampered by the narrowness of the aircraft’s fuselage and the virtual isolation of each of the crew – a particular disadvantage the Bomber Command crews (some of whom were now the torpedo crews) were only too well aware of. As is typical of these men they took the risks in their stride, just as they did the challenge of flying to Russia - a destination beyond the range of the Hampden - to help protect the Arctic convoys from German surface ship attack.

The author does not forget the groundcrew who, after a long sea journey, endured harsh conditions that made the simplest of tasks difficult. It was, even during such exceptional times, an epic journey by anyone’s standards ... and the author follows it every step of the way.

More than 120 photos and diagrams support Geoff’s narrative as he takes us to Russia and back. This is the book for the Hampden operations in Russia. There’s more on Geoff’s website and you can buy the book direct from him - RAAF In Russia


  1. Thanks Andy for your kind review. It is a book I am justly proud of and is addressed to all ages. The Hampden, while derided was a great aeroplane it just became so obsolete so quickly as new types came into service
    Geoff Raebel

  2. Thanks, Geoff, but that's just an 'advertorial'! I have yet to read the book cover-to-cover prior to writing a full review so I thought I'd at least give it a plug. I look at what I wrote from time to time and think I went a bit overboard for a 'blurb' but am not worried. Ha ha.

    A book to be justifiably be proud of, mate.