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Combat Over the Mediterranean...


...a new Air War Archive title from Frontline Books/Pen and Sword


Title: Combat Over the Mediterranean

Author: Chris Goss

Publisher: Frontline Books

ISBN: 978-1-47388-943-9

The most recent title from Frontline Books in their Air War Archive series of photo histories I found particularly interesting and that bit more unusual to the norm.  The RAF in Action  against the Germans and Italians through rare archive photographs.  That is especially true in this instance.  In the preface, author Chris Goss explains how he met Dennis Ormonde Butler DFC, who twice was the CO of 252 Squadron during WW2.  survived the war and finally retired in 1958 as a Wing Commander.  Sadly he passed away in 2005.  After his death it was discovered that he had kept an amazing collection of wartime camera-gun stills from 252 Squadron during the war.  All were dated and remarkably clear.  By knowing their dates, and with reference to the Operations Record Book entries for the squadron, so this book has been enabled.

An Introduction provides the background and history of 252 Squadron, including some photos of their aircraft and personnel in the early days, leading to their move to the Middle East and all this action recorded in the Mediterranean theatre.  .  The bulk of the book is then split into 4 parts, each one covering operations in the years 1942, 9143, 1944 and finally 1945.  Every picture is numbered within each part of the book, and these are then referred to in the text which gives the stories of each of the operations on a day-by-day basis throughout the book.  What we see are all aerial photos, natural on the basis these are all stills from gun cameras.  Their targets vary, though many are ships of all shapes and sizes, many at sea and others when in port.  Then particularly later in the war, we see more ground attack targets, buildings and transport.  One or two images also capture attacks on enemy aircraft.

This is an slightly more unusual collection of archive photos to see from a single unit, and in this quantity.  The operational records provide the detail for the individual stories to accompany the photos and I though a useful reminder that these are all very much records of real warfare.  Nothing staged and of course real events that would have led to real casualties.  A sobering thought perhaps but what a marvellous collection of images all from the one squadron in the same operational theatre which we are lucky to have seen preserved and presented in a way that makes them accessible to us all.  Definitely one to recommend.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.


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