Return Flights in War and Peace, the Flying Memoirs of Squadron Leader John Rowland, DSO, DFC

Return Flights in War and Peace, the Flying Memoirs of Squadron Leader John Rowland, DSO, DFC

Squadron Leader John Rowland entered the RAF before the outbreak of the Second World War, and was at Cranwell when war broke out. Rowland had quite a varied wartime career. He began in an Army Co-Operation Squadron, flying Hectors and Lysanders (even flying a Hector on a bombing raid in 1940!). After a period as an instructor he was moved to Bomber Command, where he served as a Lancaster pilot. Having survived the war he flew for BOAC, and is now living in retirement.

One aspect of Rowland's memoirs did surprise me - one tends to think of Lancaster bombers either being lost entirely or returning intact, but although Rowland and his aircraft survived each sortie, he did lose several crew members killed and wounded, gunners being the most vulnerable.

Rowland's time with Bomber Command came in the second half of the war, and his experiences come across as rather more varied than those memoirs set earlier in the war. The night bombing campaign over Germany was still important, but targets in France, in support of the Normandy campaign, part of the anti V-1 campaign and attacks on wider targets took up a great deal of his time. He also took part in the daylight raids that were resumed as the Allies won control of the air over Germany towards the end of the war. After the war he worked for BOAC, so we also get a picture of the slow revival of civil flying after the war.
This is a very readable memoir, telling a fascinating story and provides an interesting view of life in Bomber Command, with a different feel to memoirs set earlier in the war.

1 - Early Days
2 - Cranwell, Pre-war
3 - Cranwell at War
4 - Army Co-op
5 - 613 Squadron
6 - Calais
7 - Home Defence
8 - Instructor Course at CFS
9 - Instructor at Monrose
10 - Instructor at CFS
11 - Bomber Command at Hixon OUT
12 - First Tour in 12 Squadron
13 - Back at Lindholme
14 - Second Tour in 625 Squadron
15 - Seconded to BOAC
16 - Dakotas
17 - Crossing Africa
18 - Haltons
19 - Yorks
20 - Grounded

Author: John Rowland
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 216
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
Year: 2011

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