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In For a Penny, In For a Pound: The Adventures and Misadventures of a Wireless Operator in Bomber Command

In For a Penny, In For a Pound: The Adventures and Misadventures of a Wireless Operator in Bomber Command [Kindle Edition]

Howard Hewer
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

The gripping story of the twentieth century’s greatest struggle in the modest voice of a Canadian teenager in the RAF.

In 1940, nineteen-year-old Howard Hewer dreamed of being the next Billy Bishop, of piloting Spitfires or Hurricanes over Europe. His dream was shattered when he was selected instead for a career as a wireless operator in Bomber Command.

But he got all the adventure he signed on for. Hewer and his crews of 218 and 148 Squadrons flew important night operations over Germany and North Africa, dropping their deadly payloads and dodging enemy flak.

And he was not always much safer on the ground. He survived the Blitz in London, a U-boat attack in the South Atlantic, a fire-fight with Italian troops near el-Alamien, as well as chaste love affairs, fistfights, and beers with Boer rebels.

Self-deprecating, bittersweet, and alive to both the horrors of war and the friendships and courage of the men and women who fight it, In for a Penny, In for a Pound is the unforgettable story of a young Canadian’s experience of history’s greatest war.

From the Trade Paperback edition.


Not since Dave McIntosh's acclaimed Terror in the Starboard Seat has a war memoir captured so completely the horror and camaraderie of the airforce during World War II. At times comical, at others tragic, Hewer's adventures during his life in bomber command were unique and exciting. He fell out of a bomber in training and was saved only when his boot heel got caught on the gunring. He survived a run-in with a Piccadilly Commando in London and he almost killed a wing commander on his first mission as an RAF driver. As a bright-eyed teenager dreaming of piloting planes over World War II Europe, Hewer could not imagine the vital role he would play in invading enemy skies as a wireless operator flying in Wellington bombers. In this thrilling memoir, he recounts his unique odyssey through a dangerous time.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3544 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Canada (27 Aug 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0041G5XM4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #508,654 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read 14 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Howard Hewer has written a straightforward autobiography, starting pre-war, going through joining up, then training, then on to operations and then in this case to post operational antics. It is an interesting book and is filled with little stories that keep you reading on, from the accidental shooting of a cow, to being attacked by a Ju88 whilst training in an Anson.

The Canadian author was a radio operator in Wellingtons and flew operations in Europe before moving on to North Africa. He gives the reader plenty of information about what a radio operator did and also describes the equipment and how it worked. All very interesting. This book doesn't focus only on flying; there are plenty of stories about what went on when aircrews weren't on operations. He also gives an insight into the pressures and fears that all aircrew felt and describes how it affected different members of his crew. At one point, due to poor leadership, he and the rest of the squadron were involved in a near mutiny. All great stuff.

With his tour of duty over Howard Hewer went on to have a boys own adventure behind enemy lines at El Alamain, looking for suitable airfields from which to fly fighter aircraft.

This book is well worth a read. I can't believe I've had the privilege of being the first reviewer.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.9 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing 15 Feb 2003
By John P. Rooney - Published on
"In For A Penny, In For A Pound" by Howard Hewer, sub-titled: "The Adventures And Misadventures Of A Wireless Operator In bomber Command". Stoddard Publishing, Toronto, Canada, 2000.
This book recounts the experiences of T. W. H. Hewer as a young man and a wireless operator in the Royal Canadian Air Force. As a young teenager, Howard Hewer had dreams of flying Spitfires, so he enlisted in the Canadian Air Force, which decided, at that moment, they had a greater need for radio operators than for pilots. He was shipped to Calgary for training in radio operations. Hewer then tells the story of his training as an enlisted radio operator, and his experience during bombing raids on Nazi held Europe. He retired as Wing Commander.
Young Hewer was well aware of the cultural differences between the British and the Canadians. He devotes an entire chapter (Chapter 6, "Yatesbury Wireless School - Collision of Cultures) to describe the class-conscious Brits and the young Canadians being trained in England. Throughout the book, these cultural differences will pop up, and, in some instances, be of major importance. In Chapter 19, (A Fine Line To Mutiny), it would appear that the British wanted a level of discipline that neither the Australians nor the Canadians wanted to accept. Admittedly, it as an Australian who first threw down his rifle and refused to drill, but Hewer appears to have approved of the group's refusal to exercise and drill. He later implies that this "mutiny" was responsible for the delay of his commissioning as an officer.
This book is not just the usual recounting of the terrors of flying bombers into German held Europe. There is that, of course, but Hewer narrates a story that involves the European Theatre, flying to Malta, on to Egypt and then a trip, in a ship, around Africa. In South Africa, when warned to avoid certain down town areas because the Boers still remembered the Boer war and therefore were "hostile" to the British, Hewer relies on his "Canada" shoulder flash. He and a Canadian compatriot slip into a down town hotel and are feted by the old Boers with free beer and lunch.
An interesting anecdote related by Hewer deals with the dance halls. He was on a balcony and looked down at the dancers, who reminded him of a field of moving daisies. . It seems that the ladies had all used peroxide to become blondes and their roots were slowly growing out in their darker colors. As Hewer glanced down, the whirling locks appeared as daisies in the wind. This remembrance, alone, makes the book worth reading.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting, touching account about life in Bomber Command 11 Oct 2000
By J. Gifford - Published on
Howard Hewer has done a wonderful job in bringing us his life in Bomber Command as a wireless operator flying in the belly of Wellington bombers. From his nights flying over Berlin to the bombing of North Africa to his time spent convalescing after a crash (when he went on some of his most dangerous missions), Hewer spares few details in providing a colorful first-hand account. Anyone with even a passing interest in war memoirs, or who truly enjoys the view of the world from 10,000 feet, should read this book. Without a doubt the best memoir I've read in a long time.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent memoir of life in Bomber Command and beyond 26 Nov 2007
By Owen Hughes - Published on
This is a well-written memoir by Canadian wireless operator Howard Hewer, who flew more than his share of ops during WWII and contributed in both the European and North African theatres. Ironically, the title, "In for a Penny, in for a Pound" is also part of the libretto of Gilbert and Sullivan's light opera, Iolanthe, which continues: "It's love that makes the world go round." One wonders if the author intended any hidden commentary by referring to this particularly well-known couplet in such a context.

Laced with stories typical of the war, Mr. Hewer's fine recounting also provides insight into that damnable situation which existed on the Allied side: the treatment of so-called "colonials" by RAF personnel. Truly, it's a wonder the English were able to win the war at all, when one considers the tomfoolery they frequently got up to in relation to Canadian, South African, NZ, Australian and other Commonwealth troops fighting alongside. Since Mr. Hewer flew mainly as a non-com, this work also provides us with insight into the lives of the lower ranking members of the military establishment of the day.

Bomber Command was perhaps the most effective force fighting against Nazism prior to D-Day, but there was a very high cost paid in lost aircrews on each mission. Mr. Hewer reflects on the obvious: why was it he somehow always came back. This tension is woven throughout the text, making the book successful at yet another level, since who would really want to write or read a war memoir and come away smiling. It is not a pretty story, yet the author has presented it to us in a lively and balanced manner, making the book eminently readable while allowing a strongly-voiced message about war to come through as well. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Colorful Canadian airman 13 May 2013
By A Customer - Published on
The English attitude demanding a stiff upper lip, even when threatened with death, led to some colorless biographies after WW II. Hewer and his fellow 'colonials' lived life to the fullest. As forces expanded, men from elsewhere in the Empire filled the units. Traditionally, English officers maintained themselves above the 'other ranks', leading to resentment. Most countries would not commission someone without a college degree or ROTC training. But like U.S. forces, colonial Officers did not insist on separation between men who, after all, depended on each other for their lives.
As one of the few books covering operations in the Mediterranean theater, you compare the rigid life of living in a barracks on an established base in England, to living under canvas in the wind and sand. It may not have been universal, but Hewer observes that night trips are independent and so out of sight of other planes, unaffected by charismatic leadership. You flew through the dark, located the assigned city (forget pinpoint targeting), dodged searchlights, then flew home. I read the account of an English Officer attempting to impose spit and polish on the non-com aircrew, and I sympathize with their reactions.
The war continued, and the crew flew to Benghazi (repeatedly), Crete, then he suffered illness and hospitalization. From there, still fighting the German Afrika Korps, a crash and assignment to driving duty.
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, a great personal story of a WWII bomber crewman 11 May 2013
By Tahoe USA - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An entertaining and well-crafted true story of a Canadian lad who volunteered for, and served in, the British Royal Air Force as a wireless operator (radioman) on Wellington bombers. He campaigned in Europe and the North Africa flying hi risk bombing runs over Hitler's strongly defended " Fortress Europe" and the North African Desert Many of his fellow airmen did not survive the heavy flak and German fighter attacks, as the British Bomber Command suffered very high losses. The author's meticulous attention to detail puts you right inside the aircraft, on a very personal level.

The grand strategy of destroying Nazi Germany's cities and manufacturing capabilities was executed by thousands of missions by youthful flying Sargents, (Pilots, Observers, Bombardiers, Navigators, Radiomen and Gunners). There are no Generals and Senior Officers planning massive campaigns in this riveting personal tale of aircrew life in the air and on the ground - where every flight could well be the last.

Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in WWII bombing operations from an aircrewman's viewpoint..
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