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The Eighth Passenger (Wordsworth Military Library) Paperback – 30 Dec 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd (30 Dec. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840222522
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840222524
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 23.5 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 458,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Passing time in a small back street second hand bookshop I was surprised to find this Gem. Having quite a few WW2 Pilot autobiographies and books on bomber command I realised I didn't have any autobiographies from bomber command personnel.
This book is fantastic and deeply engrossing; I read it in two sittings. The book title "the eight passengers" refers to fear it i.e. the seven men Lancaster crew had an extra passenger in that fear of death was ever present and constant during missions over Germany. The book also has a chapter on the crew and their circumstances many years after the war which was very interesting if not very sad.
An astounding story especially as the author seems to pull the reader into his world. This book led me to 3 other bomber command autobiographies

Flights into the Night: Reminiscences of a World War Two, RAF Wellington Pilot
Lancaster Target
No Moon Tonight

while these books are also very good for me "the eight Passenger" is the best
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I first read his book - first published in 1969 - as a boy mumble years ago, after pinching it from my father's bookshelf. I had expected a tale of glorious derring-do; what I read was a much more sober account which even at a tender age made me wonder why exactly I found the idea of war so exciting.

Several decades later, I am happy to have re-discovered this book - now in an updated version - and to have had the chance to read it again with a more mature and knowledgeable eye.

Baldly stated, this is the story of one crew from RAF Bomber Command. Miles Tripp was a bomb-aimer with a Lancaster crew which flew 40 missions over enemy territory between October 1944 and March 1945. It is short, honest and fact-filled: what comes over most clearly is just how ordinary these seven men were (The "Eighth Passenger" was Fear) - and how young. At 24, the rear-gunner was the Old Man of the crew, two of whom were under twenty. Miles Tripp was twenty-one. They were thrown together by a set of extraordinary circumstances, lived through tumultuous times, were asked to do terrible things at the risk of their own lives; and were then discarded to pick up their individual lives as best they could.

There is no heroism in this book (except that that it took a lot of courage to get back into a plane and fly mission after mission when the odds of you surviving the war were not much better than fifty-fifty); nor is it a hymn to camaraderie. Indeed, Mr Tripp is very honest about the personality clashes that the crew was subject to. But precisely because the crew are emphasised as being ordinary, flawed people, the impact of the book is much the greater.

Someone once said that the most terrible thing about war was that it made the horrible seem banal.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of many superb books written by Bomber Command veterans about their wartime experiences.

Miles Tripp was the bomb-aimer in a seven-man Lancaster crew, who flew on many night raids over Germany during the latter stages of Word War 2.

Tripp's compelling story quickly rewinds from his post-war life to his initiation into Bomber Command. Like all RAF bombers crews, their job was not complete until they had successfully completed a tour of thirty missions - a doubtful objective, given the many dangers that could prevent their safe return home and the frightening statistics of bomber crew losses.

As bomb-aimer, Tripp was the man with his 'finger on the trigger'; it was largely down to him to ensure their payload hit the target - or the mission would not count towards their goal of thirty, and the target may even have to be attacked again. Tripp provides a vivid portrayal of his thoughts and emotions during these highly dangerous nocturnal raids over many of Germany's cities, including Dresden.

This new edition of the book includes a supplementary chapter - the author's post-war reunions with his former crew. His old friends recollect their feelings towards one another and the Lancaster's omnipresent 'eighth passenger' - fear.
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Format: Paperback
As with my colleague above I came upon this gem by chance quite recently. It is without doubt a classic and should be compulsory reading for all students of modern history, particularly those who have sought to denigrate the efforts of the air and ground crew of Bomber Command in WWII.
With a father in the bomber force and childhood memories of walking to school through acres of destruction in the centre of Portsmouth [in 1958!!] I confess to strong feelings on the subject.
The popular notion of 'Dresden Guilt' so common these days needs accounts like this to provide the required balance. It is interesting to note that none of these very young men when asked if they felt any guilt years later felt anything of the sort, save perhaps the author and then only because the aiming point was obscured.
Ex -service myself I found one depressing fact repeated here. The comments on P167-168 on how quickly the nation forgets found particular resonance.
But then it has always been thus, apparently Queen Elizabeth 1 could not wait to ditch the sailors who had served her and the nation so well in the Spanish wars.
It seems the British, or at least those who managed to avoid any hint of danger, cannot wait to dispose of those who defend their right to do just that, when the job is done. One need look no further than today's newspaper to see the truth of it.
The Eighth Passenger, quite the best and most moving book on Bomber Command I have read.
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