Author: James Goulty
Published: Pen & Sword
Hard back, 264 pages, 20 black & white photographs
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Much has been written about the Royal Air Force during the Second World War–memoirs, biographies, histories of Fighter and Bomber commands, technical studies of the aircraft, accounts of individual operations and exploits – but few books have attempted to take the reader on a journey through basic training and active service as air or ground crew and eventual demobilisation at the end of the war. That is the aim of James Goulty’s Eyewitness RAF. Using a vivid selection of testimony from men and women, he offers a direct insight into every aspect of wartime life in the service.
Throughout the book the emphasis is on the individual’s experience of the RAF – the preparations for flying, flying itself, the daily routines of an air base, time on leave, and the issues of discipline, morale and motivation. A particularly graphic section describes, in the words of the men themselves, what it felt like to go on operations and the impact of casualties – airmen who were killed, injured or taken prisoner.
A fascinating varied inside view of the RAF emerges which is perhaps less heroic and glamorous than the image created by some post-war accounts, but it gives readers today a much more realistic appreciation of the whole gamut of life in the RAF seventy years ago.