''What are the losses on each raid?'
'They say five per cent.'
"Five per cent and we do thirty ops.' He considered this thoughtfully. 'We sort of end up owing something.'
I believe we owe a great debt to the brave boys of Bomber Command who knew they were unlikely to survive. This account from an Australian sergeant navigator tells you what it was like to fly over Germany from Lincolnshire, to kill and probably to die. The author's crew were the first in seven months to actually complete a thirty flight tour of operations from their airfield. In 1941 he had trained with twenty compatriots. 18 were destined for Bomber Command. At the end of the war 12 were dead and one a prisoner. It was, he says, an average group. I am ashamed that my country never gave the airmen of Bomber Command a campaign medal.
Here you really get a feel of what it was like to be so young with no more ambition that to reach your next short leave. Wartime romance is related and the discovery of the village his family came from and his ancestors' graves.
The first time my parents saw the house where I was to grow up, there was a Halifax bomber crashed outside. I played as a boy in the peaceful ruins of the disused former bomber airfield from which men like Charlwood had flown less than ten years before. A different world so well narrated in this book.