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A rarely told story of wartime courage and skill that deserves to be appreciated
on 5 July 2014
'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.