Time certainly does fly when you’re having fun. It doesn’t seem that long ago when Steve Brew’s momentous work on No. 41 Squadron’s war from 1942-45 – Blood, Sweat And Valour – was being brought forth into the world. I can still remember, it was only January 2013 after all, the immense package being delivered to the door. The courier seemed a bit more puffed than usual and, in the background, I could see the suspension on his van only just beginning to recover. I was soon to find out why.
BSV is physically surprising. As I said in the review, it is more than 900 pages long, quite heavy and very imposing yet maintains a manageability when it comes to handling. It’s just as surprising, pleasingly so, on the inside. The illustrations and detail are staggering but it is easy to read despite the necessary ‘evils’ required of a squadron history/diary. This is one of two squadron history titles that I use as a benchmark for all others (the other being Graeme Gibson’s magnificent Path Of Duty). It has clearly been an epic undertaking and the author is about to do it all again as he rapidly approaches the final stages of his latest project.
Blood, Sweat And Courage is Volume Two but, obviously, really Volume One of the squadron’s history. It will cover the period from September 1939 to July 1942 and complete the wartime saga begun by BSV. The book will be in the same format and contain the level of detail experienced in BSV. Much of the information detailing the squadron’s operations over Dunkirk and during the Battle Of Britain has been gathered from previously unavailable personal accounts, combat reports and intelligence reports. As expected BSC will be superbly illustrated with an array of tables, sketches and maps ably supported by more than 350 photographs. There will even be eight colour aircraft profiles so there will be truly something for everyone to sink their teeth in to.
The release of Blood, Sweat And Courage towards the end of this year will be the culmination of 11 years of research into the wartime history of No. 41 Squadron. The two books, using BSV as the example, exceed all expectations but combined they will be a shining light for their genre. Simply brilliant. Keep an eye out for BSC later in the year (news of its cover and launch will be reported here) and be sure to warn your postman or courier driver! If he or she delivered a copy of David Vincent’s The RAAF Hudson Story Book Two, Neville Parnell’s Beaufighters In The Pacific or the new edition of The Bomber Command War Diaries then they’ll have a fair idea of what to expect. Steve Brew’s books are easily on a par with these classic, comprehensive and weighty titles. Just superb.