The Fear in the Sky: Vivid Memories of Operational Aircrews in World War Two, Pat Cunningham

The Fear in the Sky: Vivid Memories of Operational Aircrews in World War Two, Pat Cunningham

This book consists of ten mini-memoirs written by operational aircrew who fought in the Second World War. Just about every position in the aircraft is covered, with pilots, navigators, wireless operators, engineers and gunners all covered. There is also a wide variety of duties, including Bomber Command's strategic bombing campaign, meteorological flights, night fighters, torpedo bombers and operations in the Far East.

These memoirs have been written in recent years, so in most cases we get a summary of the author's post-war life and musing on the nature of their wartime experiences. The wide range of roles performed and theatres fought in also provides some interesting variety.

This is an interesting middle-ground between the full length autobiography and the snippet-based approach of many similar books, where extracts from different memoirs are used to illustrate a particular part of the war in the air. Here we get the full run of each of these men's life in the wartime RAF from recruitment, through their varied combat careers and out into the post-war period. Having ten different stories in a single volume gives a good idea of the variety of duties performed by the RAF but also reminds us of the many similarities between the experiences of most airmen who all had to face dangers from their own aircraft, collisions and accidents as well as the best efforts of their opponents. Just as Cunningham intended this is a worthy tribute to the men of the RAF.

1 - The Fear in the Sky - Flight Lieutenant Keith Hall, MBE, pilot
2 - A matter of getting on with it - Warrant Officer George Ellis Parkinson (Parky), wireless operator/ air gunner
3 - I'd have dropped even more bombs - Warrant Officer Charles (Bill) Dowman, flight engineer
4 - Seeding the Storm - Squadron Leader John Ernest Francis Mitchell, DFC, wireless operator/ air gunner, then pilot
5 - A certain sense of satisfaction - Warrant Officer Bill Newhouse, navigator
6 - What the heck's a met flight - Flight Sergeant Ernest Winfield, wireless operator/ air gunner
7 - I paid 'em back - Flight Sergeant John Marsden, wireless operator/ air gunner
8 - Aren't we lucky? - Flight Sergeant Eric Cope, wireless operator/ air gunner
9 - A glorified office lad - Flight Lieutenant Ron 'Bram' Bramley, AE, wireless operator/ air gunner
10 - Unloved by the gods - Acting Warrant Officer Arthur Minnitt, flight engineer

Author: Pat Cunningham
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 234
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
Year: 2012

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