Flying Into the Storm...

...RAF' Bombers at War 1939-1942, from Fonthill Media

Title: Flying Into the Storm
Author: Chris Sams

Publisher: Fonthill Media
ISBN: 978-1-78155-617-7

This is an interesting book on Bomber Command in WW2, particularly for covering the period of the first half of the war.  Bomber Command had a lot to learn in that time, and despite the value of that early learning experience, it was done at the expense of many valuable aircraft and crews.  In these first few years they were not using the longer range four-engine bombers best known for the later half of the war.  This is the era of the single engine Battle, along with twin-engine Wellington, Whitley, Blenheim and Hampden.

The chapters move through the various periods of the war, starting with the first stages of the war, attacks against German Naval bases which were within range of the UK.  When the bombers were attacked by modern fighters and found their defensive armament was not adequate for these daylight operations and losses were suffered.  It led to the move to night bombing rather than daylight operations.  Some missions led to losses, such as attacks on naval bases in Germany, while others had more success and few losses, such as the 'Gardening' operations to sow minefields in the channel and close to European ports.  There were 'Nickel' missions, to drop nothing more lethal than propaganda leaflets. Weather and mechanical reliability were yet more factors the crews had to face.  Taking the war to the enemy after the Battle of Britain led to new missions, such as 'Roadsteds' which were anti-shipping sweeps by Coastal Command and the ''Circuses' against land targets flown by Bomber Command No.2 Group.  There were targets in France and the importance of attacking oil targets. The targets in Germany remained a priority while the later chapters move on to detail operations in North Africa, and combat against the Italians in Operation Compass, the distraction of the fighting in Greece and then back to North Africa for Battle Axes and Crusader.

Changing theatre once again, the final chapters look at the Fall of Malaya and then the Fall of Burma before a concluding chapter which sums up the experiences of the RAF Bombers and their missions in the first half of the war.  Not our most successful period, but one in which lots of lessons were learnt in readiness for new equipment such as the four-engine heavies.  A well told account of this first half of the war for the crews of Bomber Command, and with added 'life' throughout the book thanks to the number of personal accounts that are included. within the different chapters.  An interesting read on what was a difficult period for the RAF in WW2.

Robin