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on 4 May 2016
I enjoyed this book in the main. It is 'old fashioned' in many aspects but I found this charming and of its time. There are no airs and graces and the author is sanguine about his experiences. The descriptions of aerial warfare are very moving as are the descriptions of cloud formations and sunsets. However the stand out part of the book for me was the account of his first ditching. Seeing the pilot standing on the sinking aircraft ad the dinghy moved away until he was lost in the swell moved me greatly and reminded me how bloody dangerous bomber ops were. His description of their time in the wave tossed dinghy was so subtle yet powerful at the same time. Moving and eloquent and worth reading the book for alone. This is not a classic but for me the stand out parts are so 'stand out' it deserves 5 stars
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on 12 March 2017
Another great recollection from one of these unsung heroes. Written as if he was writing it as it happened and you are there with him. More people should read these accounts instead of whinging about the death and destruction to our once enemy - just remember the forgotten 55,000 who died to help bring about a peace. Just think, the BBC could be showing a real SS/GB programme.
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on 15 September 2015
Remarkably readable and unguarded. It is the flavour of the man, conveyed as much in his sparse and clear style as the forthright content - rather than tales of derring do - which mark this slim volume, published in 1944.

'... when death seems almost inevitable, the feelings I have experienced have been excessive loneliness, a deep sense of depression, and a feeling of utter hopelessness and misery.'

Or, on a visit to New York (when he was training to become a pilot in Canada):
'One man stopped me on Broadway and asked:
''Will you do me a favour?''
I said I would if I could.
''Then shoot Hitler for me.''
We shook hands.'

Or when Rivaz was resisting very strong pressure from his Squadron Commander to become a pilot instructor rather than an operational pilot:
"... I can tell you what you ought to do. You are cut out to be an instructor,"[the Squadron Commander] replied.
..."I'm being very serious, though. I would sooner go back as an air gunner than stay as an instructor."
"I don't believe for a moment you are in earnest."
"I am sir, and I'll chuck in the course here and now if there is any question of instruction."
"In which case I hope you get shot down!"
"That would be nothing new. I'll come and see you later, if I may, sir, about the posting."

Rivaz got his way and was posted back to Britain, but he was unlucky and ended up ferrying aircraft. Sadly, he was killed shortly after this book came out when a plane on which he was a passenger crashed in Belgium.
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on 16 November 2016
Captivating exploits from this publishing houses first hand exploits, in service.
We all know that the tail gunner's position was the riskiest & loneliest in the bomber, no contact, a big chance of being marooned in a thinly shielded bubble if the hydraulic controls were shot through, ..yet this young guy went through the lot & out the other side, ..really gambling the high odds stakes to the max!

I don't give much away with books, it isn't my place to, however as a short book this excels, whilst I have read a lot of serving military experiences from WW1 & 2 the tail gunner never ceases to surprise me!

Compared to other books of this type, if you are trying to get the emotions & experiences across to a younger generation from a particular service positions aspects then this publishers books do the job very well compared to the "hidden voices" series (also excellent but a complete pick & mix of service personnel stories) this on the other hand is one persons perspective as a team member & ultimately very satisfying, you cannot knock the price nor the content within!
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on 26 June 2017
Loved reading about this brave tail gunner a real change from just the pilots view
They were such an amazing team in the bombers and this book shows the bravery of each and every one of the crew
To be downed in the sea not once but twice! And rescued both times is nothing short of amazing
Such a good read I was sorry when I finished the book
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on 4 December 2015
He writes so well! This is a highly readable first-hand account of the mostly humdrum but occasionally nerve-shattering world of a bomber tail-gunner in World War Two.

Rivaz is surprisingly honest about himself (not liking women, not good at small talk, somewhat egotistical) and about wartime conditions (alluding to black-marketeering, air-crew rivalries and the like). He is very good at honing down to what is really interesting, but gives almost nothing of the bigger picture (no doubt difficult, since the book was first published in 1943) or of what others thought.

The most spectacular parts are when Rivaz narrowly escaped death when his bomber was hit on night raids over Cologne, the first leading to a nail-biting return flight to the nearest English airfield; and the second resulting in a crash-land in the sea and a highly anxious wait till (by no means certain) rescue.
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on 6 April 2017
This is a really good read which brings home the danger and the fear (which the author euphemistically calls 'stage fright'). I would say this is one of the better books detailing operational flying in RAF Bomber Command. Tragically the author did not survive the war.

A good companion read would be Diary of a Bomb Aimer by Campbell Muirhead. The diaries include training in North America as well as his tour of duty. It also has a lot of detail regarding life on a operational Bomber Command Station
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on 1 February 2017
This is a rather smashing (if too short) book relating the exploits of an unsung, yet essential member of a bomber crew. It was obviously written during the war, leading to the usual references to landing at A____ etc. One of the really good things about this, at this remove, is that, as the book develops, it slowly dawns who "Riv" is. Also who Leonard is. (He's really quite famous you know!).

Overall, as a voracious reader of memoirs and first person accounts of history, this is a very enjoyable read covering bomber operations in the early war period. Highly recommended.
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on 19 May 2016
A nicely written account that makes you feel that you are in the moment with the author, and gives the reader a great sense of the sights, sounds, smells and emotions of going to war in the rear turret of a WW2 bomber. As it was written soon after the events took place the language and analysis is very much from the period and not as a result of reflections from many years hence and I this gives it much more of a feel of being a first hand account delivered as if talking to the author during the conflict. A very good read.
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on 6 November 2016
A riveting and enveloping account of the experience of taking part in bombing raids in the earlier years of the second world war, written eloquently in a way that shares the emotions, the action, the cold and the fear. An extraordinary book from a very brave and spirited man who knew, and who sadly never returned from a mission in 1943. He would have gone on that final mission even if he knew he wasn't coming back to finish the book. I salute you with gratitude, Riv.
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