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Algiers to Anzio with 72 and 111 Squadrons: An RAF Engineer Officer's Experiences in North Africa and Italy with 239 Wing DAF During World War II
Algiers to Anzio with 72 and 111 Squadrons: An RAF Engineer Officer's Experiences in North Africa and Italy with 239 Wing DAF During World War II
by Greggs Farish
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Engineers in the Desert Air Force, 5 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The cover photo reminds me of a shot from "The English Patient" - is that a captured German motorbike ?

Greggs Farish has a clear style, his diary was for himself, kept against orders, and not meant to be published. It has been well edited by mike MCcaul and like all such memoirs might lead the reader to ask more questions about the motivation underlying subsequent actions. It well conveys the organised preparation, the landings and the stress of sustained combat and support. It is not written as a book of humorous anecdote, but there is a strain of dry under statement throughout.

This is the only book I have found that covers in such detail the ground crew aspects of these RAF squadrons with the 1St Army - part of the well oiled machine that provided Allied air cover to the campaigns in North Africa and Italy - skilled young men working under difficult conditions to support the Squadron, often subject to enemy action, but with little real chance of retaliating. The engineering detail and the mentality of engineering management/administration underlies the diary, some might find it boring, but I find it adds to the realism. Engineers and engineering administration/logistics is often the same in order to deliver a project or a mission. Bizarre procurement decisions adversely affect the campaign. Spitfires are much loved, as are all aircraft and there is delight in repairing an Me.109, which is then almost destroyed during a little trip. The matter of fact recovery of crashed aircraft is a reflection of the nature of operations. Maintaining their beloved lorries is almost more difficult task than Spitfires - since all their gear was for Spitfires. Ground Crew and Pilots all work together to preserve operational capability.

Reading this book was almost a Proustian evocation of my childhood. My late father was a Spitfire Engine fitter with 111 Squadron at this time, and I grew up with tiny tales of this period - place names and little details. Blues exchanged for Khaki BD, Using petrol instead of water, Spitfires taking off with fitters on the tail, the use of captured Italian materiel for private projects (weapons, vehicles, aircraft), Communications Flights, obtaining a Piano for the NAAFI. Drawing on my father's experience, it might be useful to read this in common with "The Two Types" by Jon to provide additional imagery.

The North African section in Tunisia and Algeria is very detailed. The Sicilian and Italian parts are more of a pen sketch, but under the stress and pace of relentless operations the sense of camaraderie becomes more pronounced. Farish's unauthorised flight to the Anzio beach head and subsequent Court Martial could be indicative of a young man stretched to the limit. In other hands it could have read like Tom Sharpe meets "Catch 22", I was reminded of the sort of anecdotes reported in Michael Nelson ("Captain Blossom"), Alan Whicker or George MacDonald Fraser. Farish's continuing active service and "rehabilitation" are only covered in outline, and could be a most interesting read.

I highly recommend this book, but it might be a specialist read. Thanks to the publishers, McCaul and Farish's family.


Smoby - The Toy Company Croquet Set (4 Player) - L 75 cm
Smoby - The Toy Company Croquet Set (4 Player) - L 75 cm

2.0 out of 5 stars sad really...., 23 Jun 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It is a very pretty set with the nice stand which makes one think it will be easy to tidy up and store. In reality the balls are too small and lightweight for my 5 year old to hit and make move. The cubs are not much more useful and it isn't much easier for the 8 year either. So even after the grass was cut very short it is not not really functional enough for a proper game.


It Happened Here [1964] [DVD]
It Happened Here [1964] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kevin Brownlow
Price: 12.31

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Frighteningly Plausible Film, 13 Mar 2006
The mostly amateur actors give a real documentary feel to the film, and the authentic uniforms in London settings give an uneasy thrill. The overall feel is of an Orwellian nightmare, overlaid with UK style images reminiscent of Lacombe Lucien, Is Paris Burning or any number of French period newsreels. The English mini-Nuremburg funeral, the SS-Black Prince Division and the interviews with unrepentant Mosleyites must have been well ahead of their time, and apparently blighted Brownlow's career, but the film is compelling, and often much more brutal than UK films of the period. The partisan style ending in Gloucestershire jolts the viewer, would the British have really behaved like this? Would we have used Wembley as a "Vel d'Hiver" or would Acton Turville be our equivalent of Lidice or Oradour. No stock footage used, but I was sure that I'd seen the images from German newsreels. That is the highest recommendation concerning the reality of the shots.
Well worth viewing.


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