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'We Landed by Moonlight' is the story of a relatively small number of pilots who flew highly secret missions mostly into occupied France during WWII and is one that is rarely told and certainly not in such detail.

Fighter and Bomber Commands were often written about, Transport and Coastal Commands and the RAF's Rescue Service much less so although they sometimes featured in movies. The flights that are the subject of this book which was written by one of the pilots concerned are certainly the least known and were then rarely discussed. Using aircraft such as the Lysander, which was ideal for the task and without any defenses in order to keep the weight low, was a common choice and it could take three passengers at a push but in little comfort. While some flights were to get agents in, others were to recover them, extract documents or something of importance. Landings could be treacherous as they were usually at night and from unlit impromptu or abandoned airstrips in remote locations.

In a few instances, the flights were demonstrated in wartime or war-related movies where they show all too clearly the reasons for their existence, the problems sometimes faced, and the professionalism of their pilots.

The author describes a great many of these sorties, some of which were his own, and provides data on dates, passengers taken and collected and where their respective destinations mostly but not exclusively in France. Unfortunately, the book has been written as if copied from a flight log or similar such records although wartime precautions disallowed most information from official logbooks. The information is therefore disjointed, sometimes repeated, and therefore not always easy or compelling to read. However, for the amount of information provided and the amount of research that must have been undertaken to infill all the non-routine data that the book contains and which official logs did not the book is unusually valuable.
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on 9 August 2015
A terrific insight on the men and machines that flew on clandestine missions for the SOE and other departments flying agents in and out of France during WW2. Hugh Verity has described the different flights the difficulties of a pilot navigating his way sometimes through severe weather to a small field somewhere in France to drop off and pick up his Joe's. The stories will have you hooked. He also describes the losses of the pilots and aircraft as well as the very brave secret agents operating in France. I highly recommend this book and has now encouraged me to order further books on the SOE and their operatives. Never a doubt that this time was of the greatest generation we will have known and never should be forgotten.
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on 25 January 2016
This is a little known area of the air war in WW2, and a really intriguing one. Hugh Verity gives it some life with his personal account, and at the same time you begin to understand the dangers faced by these airmen as they flew single-handedly deep into enemy territory, and at the end of perhaps a 4 hour flight find a single small field that might be lit by a torch. Equally, you might land and be met by a German ambush. The detail in this account is quite astounding. I recommend that you also read Dangerous Moonlight by John Fortnum, which is a novel based on Lysander operations.
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on 19 October 2013
I purchased this book after watching The Secret Army set of DVD, hence I wanted to know more about the
Lysander aircraft. This is a great read, full of history but no written in a dry way. A great book to read and
I then purchased MI9 . . . there are so many links with We Landed by Moonlight. I have now ordered
"The Meaning of Treason" by Rebecca West. All these books cover such an important part of our history
as a nation. I feel we should do more to educate our children about this period of the history of Great Britain and indeed The United States of America; our true friends when times were hard. Long may it continue
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on 6 September 2009
Highly recommended. This is one of those time-warp books, where you are transported back to a world of cheery young men and staunch women-in-waiting, respectively risking their necks and worrying in the great adventure of World War II. Hugh Verity commanded the highly secret 161 Squadron, which flew single-engine Lysanders and twin-engine Hudsons into farmers' fields in occupied and Vichy France. They dropped off and collected agents, and couriered invaluable intelligence reports back from under the noses of the Germans and their Vichy allies. It is fluently written, highly-readable and modest.

I particularly commend it to pilots. Anyone who has ever been lost--and who of us hasn't--will recognise the agony of being lost at night over hostile territory while navigating visually by moonlight. Have you ever known the sinking feeling, literally, of landing on a soft field and gunning the engine to full power while the aircraft remained stubbornly stuck in the mud? Then you'll understand the frustration of the pilots as they tried to drag their heavily-loaded aircraft off short, soft, improvised landing grounds, usually with the odd tree on the boundary to add a little interest to the angle of climb.

These were young men, usually around 25, highly individualist in style and approach. There were remarkably few casualties, though many of the crew were subsequently killed in action after transferring to Bomber Command. The calibre of their passengers is remarkable. The pilots seldom knew their real names, only their code names, but the passenger lists included a couple of future French presidents, some future French prime ministers, as well as those who went on to run huge French companies. Violette Szabo was a customer of Verity Air. So was François Mitterand.

This is a book for anyone who likes adventure. It is also, let it be said, a return to a glorious and honourable past, when wars were just and those who fought them knew they had right on their side.
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on 12 August 2016
Very interesting to read. My father (who died a few years ago) was a member of 161 Squadron based a Tempsford during the war. He would never talk about his time there and I only found out about his association with 161, shortly before he died, when he requested a book about some of the agents that were dropped behing enemy lines, from Tempsford. Without books such as this it is easy to overlook the risks, and sacrifices, made by the men and women who fought for the freedoms we enjoy today. Many paid the ultimate price and faced torture and death in the work and death camps in Europe.
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on 11 January 2015
Exciting and wonderfully revealing on how these very brave and expert pilots went about their moonlit missions to fly for 3 - 4 hours
to find a field in the middle of nowhere not knowing if the reception party was for real, or in fact the gestapo. I applaud the
navigational and the technical expertise of the Lysander pilots and others who carried out this work, which Hugh Verity has now
revealed to us all. Brilliant!

The agents and other important members of the resistance were of course very brave and resiliant too.
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on 9 May 2014
I have been a qualified pilot since I qualified in 1961, having flown in the military and airlines. I still fly light aircraft and gliders, but this type of flying is my dream. Reading this book I was in the cockpit.----- SURBERB
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on 20 August 2013
This aspect of the RAF's work in WWII is not very well known. This is written by one pilot who was deeply involved, but to get full benefit from it you really need to have an understanding of the background and context - M R D Foot's "SOE in France" is a good place to start, for example.
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on 24 March 2015
Excellent writing about the secret landings by RAF aircraft in France for SOE. Very informative, well researched and evocative of the hairy night time sorties by some very brave men.
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