Bomber Command, Battle of Berlin...

...Failed to Return, from Fighting High Publishing, via Casemate Books

Title:  Bomber Command, Battle of Berlin, Failed to Return

Author: Steve Bond, Steve Darlow, Sean Feast, Andrew MacDonald, Robert Owen, Nicole Russell and Howard Sandall

Publisher:  Fighting High Publishing

ISBN:  978-0-9934512-7-2

Written by 7 established historians, this new book from Fighting High Publishing is a very interesting take on the wider story of Bomber Command in WW2.  Split into two phases there were 19 raids on the German capital, involving 10,813 individual sorties.  The bomb the German capital entailed major effort and whether or not it was worth it remains a subject for debate.  When the head of Bomber Command, 'Bomber' Harris instigated Berlin as a target, he was not certain of what impact it might have and he estimated an expected loss of 4-500 aircraft.  The actual cost was 678 aircraft losses and 2,690 deaths.  Was it all worth it?  Well even this book can't provide a definitive answer but right or wrong, it can ensure the stories of just a few of those who gave their lives for the war effort are remembered, and just what they and their families had to go through.  Among the 450 photos featured in the book are many which have not been published before, including a few which illustrate the original documents, the telegrams that delivered the bad news to the families, and documents which have remained with the families since that time.

There are 10 chapters, each one devoted to a particular individual/crew.  Each chapter pieces together stories using personal diaries, family documents and photos, along with official records and all make for some fascinating reading.  Some include pictures of the gravestones of the final resting places for many of the airmen whose stories are told in the book.  Some are here in the UK while others remain on the continent.  In the case of the final chapter the story covers an air gunner who abandoned the turret of his aircraft without his parachute, and landing amidst fir trees and snow he miraculously survived and was made a POW.  The chapter titles help give an idea of what is being told by the book, with 'An Early Casualty'; 'A Working Class Lad'; 'Sudden Impact'; 'Fate Intervenes'; 'A Very Brave Man'; 'Seventeen Days Grace'; 'Found'; 'Goodbye Doug, Wherever You Are'; 'It's OK. I'll Jump Out'; and finally, 'Bailing Out Without a Parachute'.

It would be impossible to try and tell the individual stories of over 2,000 individuals, but this book does give a fine insight into what life was like for these men and does help make a fitting memorial for them all.  Add the photos and there will be much to interest the reader.

The book is published by Fighting High Publishing and distributed by Casemate Books, my thanks to Casemate for our review copy.