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4.7 out of 5 stars
Bomber Boys: Fighting Back 1940-1945
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on 7 December 2017
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on 29 November 2017
YOU are in the cockpits, over Germany! brilliant!
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on 28 May 2017
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on 18 October 2007
As an ex Bomber Boy this book is first class and shows the modern youth how we responded to the threat of Nazi domination and despite the denigration of our efforts by modern 'hindsight' historians, most young people I have met do not look upon us as 'terrorists'. I for one have faith in our 21st century young men that they would respond as we did in 1943/45.
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on 22 October 2012
This is an excellent account of life in Bomber Command during WW2. Although it is an overview of RAF bombing during the war, it is told mainly from the perspective of those involved - the crews themselves. It is not a dry chronological story - there are many of those, some very good.
This deals with what it was like to fly night after night into enemy territory, and the effect it had on the crews and those around them. Bishop is very good at this form of history, and the book keeps you interested from beginning to end. Much is told in the words of the crews themselves, and it is this that really makes you think. There has been much debate in recent years about the rights and wrongs of the bombing campaign over Europe, and this is certainly discussed, but is not the main focus.
So many of these men were in their late teens and early twenties, and when you remember yourself at that age, you really do wonder how you would have coped.
Overall, a fascinating tale, well written, well structured and thought-provoking.
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on 2 September 2017
What a compelling account of the enormous task these young heroes had to endure. Written with understanding and compassion for the sacrifice of the thousands who gave their lives for the saviour of our nation. This book gives a blow by blow picture of what it was like for aircrews to be putting lives on the line day after day in the pursuit of victory in the air. Made all the more gripping by including individual eyewitness reports of disasterous losses and daring escapes.
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on 4 June 2008
This book is the best book I have read so far this year.

It describes the strategic air war against Germany by the RAF in the Second World War. That description makes it sound maybe a bit dry and academic but it is far from being either of those things! It tells the story of this chapter in the war from a very human point of view. For example, there are chapters describing the airmen's training, lives at their bases, their motivation, how they dealt with the fear of being killed whilst carrying out operation over Europe at night and many other highly interesting aspects of the lives of these remarkable men.

The book also describes the strategy behind the bombing of Germany, from the beginning to the end of the war and gives a good insight into the main commanders - people such as Charles Portal and Bomber Harris.

The story told in these pages is often very moving and I once I had finished the book I thought about it for a long time afterwards, quite unlike other books I have read. I felt great sympathy for all the men of Bomber Command, which has never had the vital role it played in World War II properly publicly acknowledged. I hope that this book will cause many to ask why this is so and perhaps focus efforts to have a permanent memorial specific to these men built, and to have this done before the last of them die and they recede from living memory.
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on 1 June 2008
Bomber Boys brought tears to my eyes. It is a movingly written record and assessment of the horrors that aircrew endured during World War II. My father - a navigator in a 44 Squadron Lancaster - had told me on many occasions about his war service and I understood something of the difficulties. However, it was only by reading this book that one can put into perspective the terrible loss, the low chances of survival as well as the physical and mental strain of missions.
Nor does the book shirk from the real moral ambiguities of the campaign and follows through to officialdom's post-war embarrassment of their role. The book fills in many of the gaps that I did not appreciate when talking to my father and allows me now to understand how truly heroic his and his fellow aircrewmen's contribution was. I only wish that my father could have survived a couple more years to have enjoyed reading it.
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VINE VOICEon 24 December 2009
Opposite my house (20km South of Dijon, Burgundy) past the war memorial in the village cemetery lie the crew of a Short Sterling shot down on the 13th August 1943 by a Messerschmitt 109.

· Pilot: Pilot Officer Frederick MATTHEWS Royal Australian Air Force, 25 years old
· Bombardier: Flight Officer Franck HOLLAND Royal Australian Fleet Reserve, 32 years old
· Navigator: Flight Sergeant Alistair ROSE Royal New Zealand Air Force, 20 years old
· Gunner: Flight Sergeant Albert HARRIS Royal New Zealand Air Force, 23 years old
· Radio officer: Sergeant Kennet CORK Royal Air Force, 21 years old
· Mechanic: Sergeant John KNIGHT Royal Air Force, 27 years old
· Gunner: Sergeant Henry OTT Royal Air Force, 19 years old

The book succinctly details the strategy and tactics of the bombing campaign. It is an explanation not a justification - none is needed - where the sheer terror of the aircrews experience is equalled by the horror of those beneath the bombs. Bishop presents the mass of data well. He gives a balanced account of Anglo American strategic goals/arguments and his comments on Dresden were reasoned. Before that he explains how aircrew found love, and what happened to the WRAF who fell for a married Wing Commander. What emerges are stories, how crews were recruited, trained, commanded and lived. This book is rich in detail, about people rather than military technology or command and control structures.

Bishop allows us to understand the most controversial aspect of the bombing campaign in Europe. After the war there was little recognition for those engaged in the bomber offensive, ineffective and savage the politicians preferred to ignore those who had participated. This was despicable - Churchill in particular is culpable while some air marshals and planners have a case to answer. The crews believed they were attacking the military capability of the enemy, assisting the land war and supporting the Red Army (especially in the destruction of targets in Eastern Germany - Dresden et al). By default - not design - it was a war against women and children but that could only be appreciated after the Germans had been beaten.

As for "my" Stirling bomber that was shot down, I learned it was a poor aircraft giving its crews an excellent chance of death. For the seven it was a cruel end, fighting and failing inside a burning plane there was no escape. Each year our small village places a wreath at the war memorial then process to the cemetery to play both national anthems on a bugle. Having read this book I have an appreciation of what they went through. An excellent history, well-written Patrick Bishop has allowed me to know these people. He has made them human. It left me shocked, having read so many war histories as entertainment here on my doorstep is the reality buried under seven immaculate headstones.
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on 16 July 2007
As the grandson of a flight-engineer on Lancasters I have a personal reason to value this original and thoughtful look at the lives of the only 'boys' who fought from start to finish of World War II. Bishop takes a ground-up perspective and focuses on the experiences of the airmen themslves, adding details of policy and politics where it becomes appropriate to the main theme. He has researched both ageing memories and first hand documentary accounts of what is thankfully our only strategic air war. The sacrifice of those who were clearly so talented and gave so willingly shines as an inspiration from these pages. The scale of the losses is sobering - eight thousand men died in training accidents alone. Could we do it again? I wonder.
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