Several years after his myth-busting Paddy Finucane and the Legend of the Kenley Wing, the next instalment of Anthony Cooper's Australian aircrew books is finally, almost, with us!
Anthony is perhaps best known for his superb Darwin Spitfires. He followed that book with Kokoda Air Strikes and RAAF Bombers over Germany 1941-42 and the aforementioned Kenley Wing title. This new book continues his look at where Australian aircrew were around the world during 1942, when our UK-based Spitfire squadrons were ordered home to defend northern Australia from Japanese air raids.
Cooper is an erudite type with a fine analytical mind and a penchant for not accepting things at face value. This approach was most evident with Darwin Spitfires, revealing the moderate successes of the squadrons (as opposed to the raging, almost colloquially so, success that is often repeated) in the face of technical, tactical and logistical deficiencies, and Kenley Wing, again proving all was not as was flagrantly reported and recorded to become legend. It must be noted there is never a lack of respect in these exceedingly well-written narratives, but the discussion is always frank and fair. There is no doubt the same will apply to Sub Hunters.
While not so much the stuff of repeated exaggeration, the Australian Sunderlands have not had anything written about them to this extent, excluding a couple of memoirs, since Norman Ashworth's The ANZAC Squadron (about 461 Squadron). The most prevalent story, besides one Sunderland versus eight Ju88s for example, is, of course, the sinking of U-boat U-461 by Dudley Marrows and his crew (flying Sunderland 'U' from 461 Squadron). There is so much more to the two squadrons (10 and 461) than these events. Anthony Cooper's intimate knowledge of the German language will have no doubt been put to good use examining records of such Luftwaffe heavy fighter encounters with the Sunderlands over the Bay of Biscay.
Besides the finely crafted narrative, this Fonthill publication includes a rare thing in this publisher's catalogue of aircrew books - an index! It's the type of book that certainly needs one so it is pleasing to see space was allowed to include it.
Coastal Command is not something I get to write about too often in the context of Aircrew Book Review. I am over the moon I get to now (and again in the future) and that it's from the pen of Anthony Cooper. Alongside the recent announcement of David Hobbs' latest book, we have another much anticipated literary highpoint for a rather challenging year.