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Ghosts Of Targets Past Hardcover – Large Print, 1 Nov 2009
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"'Very readable. Stories are presented lucidly and evocatively. Particularly impressive is the way Gray illustrates the emotional and mental strain of aircrew life... This book reminds us again of the terrible and terrifying duty undertaken by bomber crews.' Focus, The Journal of the MoD; 'Thanks to Gray for adding to the stock of knowledge of this heroic period in our history, and for doing it in an unusually well-written style.' Light Aviation; 'A mixture of personal anecdote and experience and the story of the war itself... A book about people and great events, ordinary people in extraordinary situations.' Dundee Courier; 'Entertaining and thought-provoking...offering a unique insight into the minds of a World War II bomber crew. A most fascinating read that should not be overlooked.' Spires magazine, Canada" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Philip Gray specializes in World War II history. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Arriving at 3 Group’s 186 squadron at the end of 1944 with his crew directly from training (in fact finishing their training slightly early due to the prowess of their navigator (not as some may suspect due to any shortage of trained crews as the RAF training machine was by this stage of the war turning out very highly trained crews in huge numbers) Philip Gray would carry out 16 bombing mission over the rapidly shrinking Reich and would also take part in the Operation Manna food drops over the Netherlands and Op Exodus return of POWs from Europe. All of this makes this memoir of Bomber Command significantly different from all the others I have read as most of Gray’s missions were to be flown during daylight in formation and with fighter escort one gets a very different picture of the war in the air at this juncture than one generally reads of the night raids of the previous winters. Nevertheless, despite much reduced loss rates by this stage of the war operational flying remained dangerous and Gray tells of nearly crashing on take-off on his second mission (one from which the Lancaster of a crew that arrived at 186 along with Gray did not return) , of the terror of seeing flak bursts all around and of other bombers in his squadron blowing up or falling from the sky on the bomb run (sights usually denied at night) .
This book tells the tale of operations undertaken by the crew so well that one can picture the sights described with ease, but what can sound thrilling story-telling at 70 years distance is bounded by the humanity of Gray’s writing – the Ghosts of the title are recalled wit sadness, the importance of Lady Luck in avoiding instant and undeserved oblivion and the stealing of youth by the nature of war are written about touchingly.
I don’t know if Philip Gray is still alive, sadly most of his crew have passed as he notes their post war lives in the glossary, if he is I would very much like to thank him for writing down the story of his war. Hopefully the sights witnessed by him and many like him shall never be seen again though we cannot take this as a given and must guard against the narrow nationalisms that led to the youths of so many young men being lost forever. I heartily recommend this book to everyone.
For me,simply one of the best "Aviation Books"
Amazing story, written in his own words. Really keeps you involved all the way through and some very dramatic, emotional and exciting periods within. If you like action, planes, a bit of romance and travel, this is the book for you. Very very good.
And I'm not normally a reader,
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