A summary of the author's service as OC 49 Squadron from his posting to the V-Force after a challenging year in Staff College, through his experiences with the nuclear tests series on Christmas Island and ending with his reassignment to a desk in Bomber Command.
I enjoyed reading this as a memoir of the RAF of the 1950s; a fascinating era with airmen and officers adapting to a gradual loss of traditions such as batmen and struggling to accept that technology was rendering obsolete old skills such as visual bombing.
It is interesting to watch the author recount how he slowly transformed from an aloof, by-the-book officer ( who had a tantrum when no-one came to greet his aircraft ) to one who genuinely felt part of the Squadron and was reluctant to leave.
This is not, however, a history of the Grapple test series. There are snippets of information relating to the bombing technique and to life on Christmas Island, but this is more a backdrop to the author's development. There is no discussion of weapon yields, physics packages, measurement techniques or the international politics that caused the Grapple tests to be rushed; instead we see it entirely from the author's eyes as Driver, Airframe. He can certainly recount crew names and aircraft serials but is oblivious to the science.
On the negative side, the author's writing technique is dictated by his training in report writing; information is often repeated, for example when discussing how a Meteor was recovered from a spin first by the instructor and then by the author; every action is listed twice. Furthermore, although the author is keen to introduce airmen and officers he does not expand on their characters and so we are left wondering why, for example, the death of Sgt Phillips was quite so demoralising. Even Crusty, the author's faithful dog, remains but a name.
The author would undoubtedly have been irked by errors and oversights made by the editor; one image is captioned ``Canberra B.7'' and another ``A nuclear device explodes..'' but other pictures provide a fascinating glimpse of life on the island.
Recommended as a snapshot of the RAF in the postwar years but neither as a serious treatise on nuclear history nor as an easy bedtime read.