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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The RAF and its nautical connection., 14 Dec. 2010
This review is from: The IWM Collection: Coastal Command at War [DVD] (DVD)
This DVD is one that not only persons interested in WWII should have in their collection, but also those places that have museums or heritage centres in the areas where Coastal Command units were based.
The DVD gives a very good indication as to how vital this much neglected part of the RAF's operations actually helped save Britain, by allowing it to continue fighting the Germans during WWII.
Without the use of relatively short range maritime aircraft patrols, carried out by twin engined aircraft that were not designed for the role, or the development of the larger and more powerful Sunderland and Catalina Flying Boats, and later the introduction of the very long range American Liberator bomber, then Britain would have quickly had to surrender.
Without patrols being carried out over the waters around not only the coastline of Britain, nor the convoys, in the search for enemy vessels that sometimes took aircraft hundreds of miles out to sea, then the German U-boats and other naval units would have almost certainly sunk so many of the ships that carried their precious cargoes of food and military supplies to Britain at a far faster rate than replacement shipping and cargoes could be found, built, and produced by the overseas countries they were purchased from.

This DVD shows some of the problems involved in fighting a war far out over the sea by aircraft, however there is one subject that is however rarely mentioned or seen in this DVD, and that is of the men and women who served in either the RAF or WAAF, and unlike those who worked on airfields, many of these instead worked on the water. Quite a large number of servicemen and women were involved in either crewing or helping to maintain the many different types of vessel needed to keep the Flying Boats and other Coastal Command aircraft maintained, as well as supplied with fuel and munitions etc.
These peoples work, like that of the airmen involved in maintaining aircraft on airfields, was however more hazardous due to it being carried out on Flying Boats that were afloat, but their work was vital in helping to keep the large flying boats serviced, often whilst the aircraft were fastened to their moorings in the relatively sheltered water somewhere around the coasts of Britain, or in some fairly remote Scottish, Welsh or Northern Ireland Loch, whilst some large harbours such as that of Plymouth, Pembroke Dock, Invergordon etc were also used as RAF bases.

Therer is very little mentioned in the DVD of the men and women of the RAF and WAAF who were in Coastal Command. who helped provide the aircrews with the vital search and rescue service launches that were developed to rescue downed aircrew, with the crews of rescue launches eventually responsible for having saved thousands of aircrews lives, and not just those of the RAF, but any who were found in the water, with even German aircrew being rescued alongside their opponents. Many aircrew were forced to either ditch their aircraft in the water through battle damage or mechanical failure, whilst some parachuted down in to the water. Whilst many died before they could be rescued there were many who managed to get into their at first primitive liferafts, though often a rescue launch or aircraft might take some time to arrive, sometimes in waters close to the enemy held shores.
Some rescues were carried out by fellow airmen sometimes flying old twin winger seaplanes of one kind or another, although the large majority of rescues were carried out by the RAF's or Royal Navy's sailors who manned specially designed fast launches or converted MTBs, from based that covered not only the coast of Britain, as there were also rescue launches situated at, or near to those overseas bases that needed such a rescue facility to be available.

All of those who flew the Coastal Command aircraft, including the Flying Boats, plus those who crewed the RAF's launches or worked ashore, played what was a vital role in keeping the enemy from controlling the sea's that the convoys used to supply Britain and her allies with the items it needed during WWII, and even after the war ended the RAF rescue service afloat still has not had its role fully recognised by many military historians.
Most military writers seem to concentrate more on the operations and roles carried out by Fighter Command and Bomber Command, than they do that of what was Coastal Commands equally vital role in winning the war.
It was the initial development of safety equipment for aircrew that was to keep on being developed, after both aircrews and rescue launch crews sought the answers of how to provide those in trouble on the water with a better chance of surviving, along with better rescue and life-saving techniques, which owe their foundations to those whose role was to protect and save life, rather than to kill people.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Oct 2013 19:55:39 BDT
Sorry but a poor review of the product. You more than adequately sound off your own views about Coastal Command and what is NOT on the DVD but say precious little about what IS on the DVD. After reading your review, I came away none the wiser on what is actually on the DVD.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Oct 2013 23:30:27 BDT
Last edited by the author on 3 Oct 2013 23:40:02 BDT
Perhaps if the person complaining about my comments on the DVD had served in Coastal Command, as I did, where I was one of the men who worked afloat on RAF Marine Craft, then he would see on viewing this DVD that a vital part of the work carried out by those keeping aircrew supplied with the training, goods, and rescue service, so they could fight the enemy both during World War Two and through into the Cold War period, then the comments I made would be seen in the proper context. Buy the DVD by all means, but realise that there are vital areas not covered that the producers should have in showing the work carried out by those who played a major part in Coastal Command, but often seem to be forgotten about when certain aspects of the RAF are compiled so as to portray their idea of what a certain part of the armed forces are thought of as interesting to those seeking information on a certain subject.
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