This book follows the same overall format as the previous volumes, loses by date etc. However, because this volume covers the units of Bomber Commands' training and development units, each different unit type has its own chapter, i.e. Squadron conversion Flights and Heavy Conversion Flights, HCU's, Lancaster finishing schools, 1655 Mosquito Conversion / Training unit, Flights, Ferry Training units, Group Communications / Training Flights, Misc units and finally Station Flights. There are appendices covering bases, tabulation of loses from the book, POW's, a really fascinating piece on a group of Polish saboteurs, and the usual but useful addenda and errata. A really great piece of work that not only covers the obvious military operations but also enough about the human cost of the bombing campaign. This series is a fitting tribute to those unsung heroes who fought within Bomber Command, and who are only recently being recognized for their efforts and sacrifice.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Counting the Cost...Volume 8!5 Dec. 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
W. R. Chorley continues his masterful summary of RAF bomber losses with this 2003 volume covering Heavy Conversion Units and miscellaneous units. Whereas volumes 1 through 6 focused on the 1939-1945 period, Volume 8 details losses incurred from 1939 to 1947. As with the preceding volumes, Chorley has brought together enormous amounts of information from a wide variety of sources to produce a concise, admittedly dry yet occasionally poignant accounting of RAF aircraft and aircrew losses.
Volume 8 runs to 269 pages. It covers Heavy Conversion Units, Squadron Conversion Flights, Heavy Conversion Flights, Lancaster Finishing Schools, Ferry Training Units and assorted units. To those unfamiliar with RAF organization, Heavy Conversion Units were first created in 1941 when four-engined bombers - Stirlings, Halifaxes, Lancasters and later B-17s and B-24s - began entering RAF service. They helped convert medium bomber crews to the newly-introduced 'heavies' before passing them on to Operational Training Units. Although most of the losses documented in Volume 8 came during training flights, some HSUs did occasionally fly combat and suffered losses to AAA or fighters. No. 1651 HSU, for example, fly 49 ops in 1941, losing five crews.
In any case, Volume 8 follows Chorley's established format: a day-by-day listing of losses further subdivided by squadron. Information given includes aircraft type, serial number, crew members/status (KIA, POW, etc), aircraft unit code and a brief summary of the loss. The loss report of the 1653 HSU Lancaster III which crashed fatally on 8 April 1945, for example, states: "Aircraft took off North Luffenham for fighter affiliation. Lost control and crashed at 1515 hours near Scraptoft on the eastern outskirts of Leicester. The six crew were all lost."
Though the BOMBER COMMAND LOSSES volumes are obviously intended for reference, Chorley still manages to insert brief personal bits of info in entries that puts a human face on the dry statistics. Paging through the books in this series is a sobering experience. Volume 8, for example, documents over 1,200 aircraft losses which translates to thousands of young men killed. It underlines the sacrifice made by RAF aircrew whether in HSUs or operational squadrons made during World War II. All in all, a tremendous effort on Chorley's part. Recommended.