17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Rear Gunner Pathfinder (Witness to War) (Paperback)There are few WWII Bomber Command books written from a gunner's perspective and I can't think of another by a 'Tail-end Charlie'. This is a quite exceptional account; Ron Smith, who flew more than two tours on Lancasters gives us some breathtaking glimpses of his experiences, some of which, like the ill-fated Nuremburg raid on 30th March 1944, have you on the edge of your seat.
His writing is vivid yet reflective and understated; at no time does he lay claim to heroism on his own part or that of others, yet the quiet courage of all these brave men is apparent on every page. He intertwines the operational narrative with the difficulties of trying to sustain wartime romances and the equally tricky business of needing to behave like a normal human being when on leave, of trying to leave the emotional and psychological impact of 'the night job' to one side.
He disabused me of a couple of my own preconceptions. Firstly, I had always thought that Pathfinder squadrons were composed of elite crews with long experience, yet his own was scooped out of 626 squadron at Wickenby and transferred to 156 Pathfinders at Warboys after just a few missions! Secondly, I thought that all tail gunners felt that they had drawn the short straw, that theirs was the most vulnerable and precarious of positions on the aircraft. Yet Smith revelled in it, enjoyed his solitude and responsibilities and never, as far as we see, requesting anything else.
Not a long book, but it's one of the most intimate and revealing accounts I've read and I would recommend it strongly to anyone who wants a fuller picture of Bomber Command in WWII. Ron Smith was not a professional writer, but for me he is the first to capture perfectly the sheer outlandishness of what these remarkable men had to do night after night for years.
Only one quibble. The publishers should have employed a decent proof-reader as the text is peppered with grammatical errors, most frequently plurals expressed as possessives - eg 'the aircraft were standing at their dispersal's'. Pedantic it may be in this increasingly illiterate age, but personally I find it irritates and devalues the story.
Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Oct 2010 18:42:00 BDT
Mr. David Gale says:
I entirely agree with Greybuff a superb account.
Posted on 14 Jul 2011 16:22:59 BDT
I must agree with Greybuff's comment on bad proof-reading.
Only one thing is more distracting than the use of bad basic grammar in a book.
That is the fact that it has been allowed to pass uncorrected.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›