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We Landed by Moonlight: Secret RAF Landings in France, 1940-1944 Paperback – 29 Jun 1998


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Crecy Publishing; Revised edition (29 Jun 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0947554750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0947554750
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 1.6 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
It was late summer in 1942 and approaching midnight. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Defranse on 21 Oct 2006
Format: Paperback
This book by Hugh Verity (who was himself one of the most accomplished pilots involved) will be enjoyed mainly, I think, by those who have already read many books on the agents who were transported to and brought back from France and whose names and exploits are familiar to them. I am sorry to say that when reading these books I have tended, although recognising the courage and skill of the pilots involved, to take their efforts for granted whilst pursuing the main exploits of the 'passengers'. This book fills in the background to the journeys to and from Tempsford and Tangmere in particular in detailed diary format. Their skills in flying to remote fields in France in all weathers and landing and taking off again (if the mud didn't prevent them), risking the flak over the French coast, enemy fighters and a possible enemy reception on arrival in France, were awe inspiring. This account in its fuller-than-usual diary format fills a gap that deserves our attention and admiration.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Peter Grose on 6 Sep 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Highly recommended. This is one of those time-warp books, where you are transported back to a world of cheery young men and staunch women-in-waiting, respectively risking their necks and worrying in the great adventure of World War II. Hugh Verity commanded the highly secret 161 Squadron, which flew single-engine Lysanders and twin-engine Hudsons into farmers' fields in occupied and Vichy France. They dropped off and collected agents, and couriered invaluable intelligence reports back from under the noses of the Germans and their Vichy allies. It is fluently written, highly-readable and modest.

I particularly commend it to pilots. Anyone who has ever been lost--and who of us hasn't--will recognise the agony of being lost at night over hostile territory while navigating visually by moonlight. Have you ever known the sinking feeling, literally, of landing on a soft field and gunning the engine to full power while the aircraft remained stubbornly stuck in the mud? Then you'll understand the frustration of the pilots as they tried to drag their heavily-loaded aircraft off short, soft, improvised landing grounds, usually with the odd tree on the boundary to add a little interest to the angle of climb.

These were young men, usually around 25, highly individualist in style and approach. There were remarkably few casualties, though many of the crew were subsequently killed in action after transferring to Bomber Command. The calibre of their passengers is remarkable. The pilots seldom knew their real names, only their code names, but the passenger lists included a couple of future French presidents, some future French prime ministers, as well as those who went on to run huge French companies. Violette Szabo was a customer of Verity Air. So was François Mitterand.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr. H. F. Murden on 29 Sep 2008
Format: Paperback
During the war the nature of the work undertaken by the pilots and aircrew of the Special Duties Squadrons precluded them from receiving the publicity associated with air operations of a more beligerent type so, rather belatedly, this excellent account goes some way to making up for this oversight. As someone who spent a number of years growing up in the vicinity of Tempsford I've always been intrigued by the clandestine work carried out by the Whitleys, Halifaxes, Hudsons and Lizzies based there.

Hugh Verity's account takes the form of an expanded diary and details his numerous forays into the night skies (and fields) of occupied France as well of those of many of his fellow pilots. Scattered throughout with amusing anecdotes and stories that wouldn't look out of place in a Boy's Own Adventure his narrative does justice to the skill and bravery exhibited by the aircrew and the agents they carried.

This revised and updated edition contains maps, drawings and a varied selection of black and white photographs which help add further detail to the main text. I found this an excellent read about an important, if often overlooked, aspect of the war in France during 1940 - 44. Recommended.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 July 1999
Format: Paperback
If you enjoy reading true accounts of wartime aviation exploits then this book is a cut above the norm. Hugh Verity describes many of the missions he flew in Lysanders and Lockheed Hudsons from Tangmere in West Sussex, England to France ferrying secret agents to secret landing strips at dead of night. These missions were fraught with danger, not only from the enemy but from the often appalling weather conditions. If you're an aviator, like myself, then you'll really have respect for this guy. Even if you don't fly, this book gives a fascinating insight into the clandestine work across the English Channel. The book was a fascinating read which I felt was modestly written and leaves you with much admiration for these unsung hero-pilots.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andy_atGC TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'We Landed by Moonlight' is the story of a relatively small number of pilots who flew highly secret missions mostly into occupied France during WWII and is one that is rarely told and certainly not in such detail.

Fighter and Bomber Commands were often written about, Transport and Coastal Commands and the RAF's Rescue Service much less so although they sometimes featured in movies. The flights that are the subject of this book which was written by one of the pilots concerned are certainly the least known and were then rarely discussed. Using aircraft such as the Lysander, which was ideal for the task and without any defenses in order to keep the weight low, was a common choice and it could take three passengers at a push but in little comfort. While some flights were to get agents in, others were to recover them, extract documents or something of importance. Landings could be treacherous as they were usually at night and from unlit impromptu or abandoned airstrips in remote locations.

In a few instances, the flights were demonstrated in wartime or war-related movies where they show all too clearly the reasons for their existence, the problems sometimes faced, and the professionalism of their pilots.

The author describes a great many of these sorties, some of which were his own, and provides data on dates, passengers taken and collected and where their respective destinations mostly but not exclusively in France. Unfortunately, the book has been written as if copied from a flight log or similar such records although wartime precautions disallowed most information from official logbooks. The information is therefore disjointed, sometimes repeated, and therefore not always easy or compelling to read. However, for the amount of information provided and the amount of research that must have been undertaken to infill all the non-routine data that the book contains and which official logs did not the book is unusually valuable.
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