21 February 2012

The Bomber Command Memorial book

With construction of the long-awaited Bomber Command memorial underway on the edge of Hyde Park in London, and the grand opening scheduled for June, there is also a smaller but equally important project being put together to, well, basically, commemorate the commemoration.

Just as the bomber crews were supported by many, many more people on the ground the book is intended to tell the entire story of the memorial: the fight for proper recognition; the fund-raising that has seen money come in from governments, communities and individuals around the world; the search and eventual selection of the site; the design and symbology of the structure; and, with publication coming in November this year, coverage of June's opening ceremony. On top of all that will be the stories of the men the memorial honours and, for some of those who attend the ceremony, their reaction to the event and the memorial itself.

There's at least 55,573 reasons why The Bomber Command Memorial - We Will Remember Them will be the most important title to be published this year. A pre-order offer will be available here with 10 GBP from each book going to the memorial appeal. When the book finally goes on sale in November all royalties will be donated. It is important to remember that, while the memorial's construction has been funded, its upkeep also needs to be provided for. That this book will contribute to the future and honour the past is a magnificent prospect perfectly befitting the men who flew east and, if they were lucky, flew home to see the dawn again.

18 February 2012

Springbok Fighter Victory

Long-term readers of ABR will know I have 'favourite' theatres of war and a penchant for accounts of the more obscure campaigns. North Africa, Burma and the Far East in particular feature heavily in my aircrew fascination but, to some extent, these, happily, are not as neglected as they once were (although they should receive more attention still).

The South African Air Force's activities over and around the Mediterranean are well known but, surprisingly, do not seem to be widely covered by the likes of memoirs and squadron histories. A trip to South Africa in 2006 gave me the opportunity to peruse several bookshops around Jo'burg but, to my surprise, I did not turn up any relevant titles. A quick bit of online searching soon after my return revealed a few books - some of which I discussed here - and in the years since I've turned up titles such as Barry Keyter's From Wings To Jackboots and the Bagshawe anthology Warriors Of The Sky (another edition published by Pen & Sword recently). It's been a bit of work though and books on the SAAF Marauders (and RAF ones) continue to elude me.

Reading the obituary of AVM Don Hills today led to me checking for reference of him in Michael Schoeman's Springbok Fighter Victory Volume 1 - East Africa 1940-1941. Regular readers will know I tend to go off on tangents so you won't be surprised to hear that, upon remembering SFV was the first volume, I did a quick search and found Volume 2 - Crisis Above The Desert 1940-1942 - is now available or, more correctly, has been available for a few years. Excellent!

The easiest place to find out more - and there's not a hell of a lot out there - is the website of the publisher, Freeworld Publications (who reports Volume 1 is out of print and cannot be reprinted). Besides the other titles available it is most gratifying to see Volumes 3-5 of the SFV series also listed although the third volume is sold out (but can be reprinted if there is sufficient interest). What this promises is a complete series of titles that will prove to be the 'bible' in terms of SAAF fighter operations during the war. For that we can be grateful.