by Anthony Cooper
Kenthurst, NSW: Rosenberg Publishing / Portland, Or: ISBS, 2016. Pp. 224.
Illus., maps, diagr., notes, biblio., index. $34.95 paper. ISBN: 1925078922
Australian Bombers Against the Reich
Australia’s role in the European Theatre may have been limited and is now mostly forgotten, but the Commonwealth’s role is a subject that bears more inquiry; at the time of the Normandy landings, for example, there were some 20,000 Australian personnel of all services in Britain. One of the more interesting aspects of Australian participation in the European war is the role of the RAAF in the strategic bombing campaign against Germany.
In this well illustrated volume Cooper, the author of several other works on Australian military history, takes a look at the role of three RAAF’s medium bomber squadrons that took part in the opening phases of the Allied air offensive against Festung Europa.
Cooper discusses the origins of the deployment of these three squadrons, mostly flying Hampden and other two-engine bombers, examines the selection and training of the personnel, and then follows them on their movement to Britain. Cooper covers their many missions in considerable detail, “flying” the reader to and from the target, as it were. He also addresses the technical aspects of the various aircraft and their operation, frequently adding in some interesting tidbits, such as the “automated” life raft release mechanism that saved a number of aviators. And, of course, Cooper some looks at many of the men who served, while also reminding us of the very heavy price they paid; by the end of their year’s service personnel loss had amounted to 100 percent of the initial contingent. Finally, noting that these squadrons were withdrawn in 1942 to support the defense of Australia against the Japanese, Cooper briefly comments on the Australian heavy bomber squadrons that eventually replaced them in Europe, and served through the war.
RAAF Bombers Over Germany is a very good addition to the literature on the bomber offensive, and also a useful look at Australia’s role in the ETO
Note: RAAF Bombers Over Germany is also available in several e-editions