Coastal Command operated three main 'strike wings', dedicated anti-shipping units each of three squadrons, during the Second World War (the most famous of these was the North Coates Strike Wing, which then moved north to become the Banff Strike Wing). These wings spent most of their time attacking German coastal trade, initially off the Dutch coast (so that operations were inside the range of single engined fighters) then off the Norwegian coast, in an attempt to disrupt the vital iron trade.
During the D-Day period one wing operated from the south-west, guarding the invasion convoys and post-invasion shipping against any interference by the German navy. They achieved great successes, but this came at a terrible coast and the Strike Wings suffered a similar level of losses to Bomber Command, making them one of the most dangerous units to operate with.
One of the strengths of this book is that the author has used the German records to match strike wing claims against real losses (and actual Coastal Command losses against German claims). This also eliminates the vagueness present in some accounts of the operations of the Strike Wings, where unnamed merchant ships are attacked (or 'see to be damaged'). Here the exact ships involved in a strike are described, as is the damage done to them and the effect it had. A list of ships and U-boats sunk or damaged by the strike wings is provided in one of the appendices.
The author flew in strike aircraft of Coastal Command after the war, and his personal understanding of the difficulties of their task is clear (this comes out in small details such as a scar common to pilots of Beaufighters, caused by the awkwardly positioned gun sight). The accounts of individual attacks are well supported by first-hand accounts of the action from the aircrews involved. The result is a splendid history of Coastal Command's Strike Wings.
I - Historical Background
II - Courage is not enough
III - Rocket Projectile
IV - The Good Shepherd
V - Blockade Runner
VI - D-Day Destroyers
VII - Combined Attack
VIII - Second Squirt
IX - Sailor's Grave
X - Crash Call
XI - Mosquitoes and Tsetses
XII - Black Friday
XIII - Retribution
XIV - The Reckoning
I - Main Locations of the Strike Wings
II - Kriegsmarine Vessels attacked by Strike Wings
III - Vessels sunk or damaged by the Strike Wings
Author: Roy Conyers Nesbit
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
Year: 2012 edition of 1984 original