In his book ‘Luck and a Lancaster’, Harry Yates offers the reader a chance to follow the author through his tour of operations as a Lancaster pilot during the last five months of 1944. The story begins with the author as a young English lad wanting to join the Royal Air Force to fly fighters just after the Battle of Britain (as all young English boys surely wanted!).
We follow Yates through his initial training at flight school and then into training for multi-engine aircraft in Canada, something he wasn’t expecting. We then read of his exploits as an instructor and then finally his posting to a Operational RAF Squadron flying one of the great bombers of the Second World War, the Avro Lancaster.
Young Harry Yates ends up with 75 Squadron (RNZAF) based at Mepal in August of 1944 with a task of completing 30 operations against occupied Europe and Germany. Although by this period of the war the conflict in the air had swung towards the Allies it was still a very dangerous occupation flying in Bomber Command. This is the guts of the story, flying with Harry Yates and his crew in one of the many Lancaster’s allotted to them through the 30 missions required to complete their tour of Ops.
I found this story truly amazing and it was so well told I was totally immersed in the narrative. I must admit it has been awhile since I have read such an interesting and captivating account of war in the air and I cannot imagine anyone who has an interesting in aerial warfare not being taken by this honest and enjoyable book.
Not once did I find the book bogging down in too much detail, not once did it flag or slow down in pace, even the author’s account of his training and instructional flights were full of interest, humour and occasional sadness. This is a great testament to the young crews who flew in Bomber Command doing a job without question that cost many their lives. Well done to the author!