‘The Navy can lose us the war, but only the Air Force can win it. Therefore our supreme effort must be to gain overwhelming mastery in the air. The Fighters are our salvation but the Bombers alone provide the means of victory…’
So said Prime Minister Winston Churchill to the War Cabinet on the first anniversary of the outbreak of war. But when Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939 her bombers were predominantly twin-engined types like the Wellington, Whitley and the Hampden which after suffering carnage during the day were soon switched to night operations.
Wartime speeches alone cannot begin to describe the misery and fortitude, desperation and terror endured by the civilian population during the ‘Blitz Nights’ in Coventry, the London docklands and the East End as night after night bombs and incendiaries rained down on them. Their personal experiences and those of war correspondents like James Negley Farson are as vivid, poignant and descriptive as those of the bomber crews carrying the war to the enemy in the early night bomber offensive. These too are mostly recounted at first hand, sometimes in BBC broadcasts to the nation; and they include ‘The Unanswerable Double’; ‘Winged Words’; ‘German Defences’; ‘Getting Frightened’; ‘Jump For It!’; ‘The Night The Fuel Ran Out’; ‘Flames, Flares and Fires’; ‘Busted Flush’; ‘The Tail Gunner’s Story’ and ‘Hampden and ‘Wimpy’ Ops’. They tell just what it was like to fly in a heavy bomber over occupied Europe.
VOICES IN FLIGHT: RAF NIGHT OPERATIONS
A series of stories from the sharp end of the Second World War in the air conducted at night. The accounts collected by historian Martin Bowman range from how it felt to be on the receiving end of the Blitz in Britain to transcripts of BBC broadcasts from bombers as they carried out retaliatory raids on Germany. Moving and exciting.