Bomber Squadron - Men Who Flew With XV Squadron

Published: May 5th, 2020     
Product Image
Author: Martyn R. Ford-Jones
Reviewed by: Luke R. Bucci PhD - IPMS# 33549
Company: Fonthill Media
ISBN #: 9781781557082
Other Publication Information: 272, Hardbound with dust jacket, 272 pages
Price: $38.95
Product provided by: Casemate Publishing

Thanks to Casemate Publishing & IPMSUSA for the review copy!

This book is a second edition, with three new chapters. Martyn R. Ford-Jones is the historian for No. XV Squadron Association, Royal Air Force (http://www.xvsqnassociation.co.uk ). His wife, Valerie, is the Treasurer and would have been a co-author but declined the honor. Years were spent interviewing the participants in this book, their families, and careful gleaning of historical records to weave a compilation of human stories set in WW2 of a squadron of British bombers.

What You Get

A 6 3/8 X 9 3/8 inch hardcover book 1 inch thick with 10.5 font written in British English (not American English). A short foreword by Group Captain Graham Bowerman who completed two tours of duty in Squadron XV in the 1970s. His foreword precedes the Acknowledgements by Mr. Ford-Jones and then an Introduction and 15 Chapters followed by four Appendices, a Bibliography and Index follow. In each chapter, B&W photos and illustrations are sprinkled around a story of 15 different individual members of XV Squadron, following them or their family during WW2.

Martyn R. Ford-Jones wanted this book to be about what it was like to live through this stretch of history. It is about what happened to these persons, and their companions, flying British bombers throughout WW2. This is not a technical reference book, nor a resource for building aircraft models, but rather, puts you in their shoes and seats to relive history. The "human story."

Bomber Squadron is a well-written, well-researched, and well-flowing book that has inside information on events through the saga of a typical bomber squadron. It directly relates the boredom, excitement, fears and horror of war in the air, mostly by night bombing. Interspersed in the chapters are notable occurrences such as the fire bombing of Hamburg, spending years in a POW camp, dropping food instead of bombs or seeing how far a family will go to learn what happened to their son and brother. Enough technical detail is given so a reader not familiar with WW2 aircraft can get a real feel for what these lads went through. Enough research is presented to give perspective on time and place of each vignette. You learn how they felt knowing they were raining death and destruction on the enemy, knowing civilians were being blown to bits. You learn how they felt when crew members or squadron mates horsed around, fell in love, were maimed, died or never returned. You get harrowing accounts of flak, night fighters, bad weather and equipment malfunctions - all trying to kill you. You learn what an "erk" was and all the foibles of each type of aircraft used by Squadron XV. You will laugh at Spamberdiers and cry over Baedecker trips.

Each chapter is a quick, easy, mesmerizing read, and the end of this book comes too soon. You again see how resilient young men and women can be, and have a much better appreciation for the efforts of British strategic night bombing.

My uncle was a B24 tail gunner and as a little kid I regaled over the few times he talked about his experiences. I remember asking him what it was like to do what he did. He echoed what the persons highlighted in this book said and did. We can all relate to the stories in Mr. Ford-Jones' book.

Summary

This book fills a gap in exhibiting what it was like to be a part of the enormous British bomber effort from the viewpoint of those who flew. Even though scale aircraft are not my modeling interest, I could not stop reading this book. What these young men endured has been lovingly chronicled and sends an example of Keep Calm and Carry On. Highly recommended if you are an aviation buff and recommended if you want to get the real-life human side and know how it felt to fly bombers at night.

  • Front cover of Bomber Squadron
    Front cover of Bomber Squadron
  • Back cover of Bomber Squadron
    Back cover of Bomber Squadron
  • Chapter 2 – Early war planes and crew of XV Squadron
    Chapter 2 – Early war planes and crew of XV Squadron
  • Chapter 3 – Leonard O’Hara, a US pilot, and his family’s attempt to determine his fate. The author and his wife, Valerie, are also pictured
    Chapter 3 – Leonard O’Hara, a US pilot, and his family’s attempt to determine his fate. The author and his wife, Valerie, are also pictured
  • Typical mid-war Stirling bomber with crew
    Typical mid-war Stirling bomber with crew
  • Doug Fry’s drawings of crewmates (this one’s the top gunner)
    Doug Fry’s drawings of crewmates (this one’s the top gunner)
  • Late war Lancaster with crew
    Late war Lancaster with crew
  • Post-war flights with guests
    Post-war flights with guests

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