Bomber Boys: Fighting Back 1940-1945

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9780007189861: Bomber Boys: Fighting Back 1940-1945

Following on from his best-selling ‘Fighter Boys’, in this very different book, Patrick Bishop looks back at the lives, human realities and the extraordinary risks that the painfully young pilots took during the strategic air-offensive against Germany from 1940-1945.

In ‘Fighter Boys’ Patrick Bishop brought to life the pilots who flew Spitfires and Hurricanes in the summer of 1940. Their skill and bravery decided the Battle of Britain, which saved the nation from invasion and created the conditions for Hitler's defeat.

In ‘Bomber Boys’ he tells a different but equally fascinating story. The 125,000 men from all over the world who passed through Bomber Command were engaged in a form of warfare that had never been fought before and never would be again. Between 1940 and 1945 they flew continuously, stopping only when weather made operations impossible. For much of that time they were the only warriors capable of hitting Germany in its own territory. There was nothing romantic about their struggle. Often barely out of boyhood they lived on bleak bases, flying at night on long, nerve-racking missions that often ended in death. The odds of surviving were stacked heavily against them. In all 55,000 were killed, nearly one in ten of all the British and Commonwealth dead.

Despite these sacrifices, the Bomber Boys have remained on the edges of our collective memory of the war. When the fighting stopped they became something of a a political embarrassment. Their actions have been the subject of a controversy that continues to the present, obscuring not only the losses they suffered but also the courage, comradeship and fortitude with which they fought.

In this powerful and moving book Patrick Bishop describes compellingly the character, feelings and motivations of the bomber crews and pays tribute to their heroism and determination. They were among the best of their generation, who were called on to carry out one of the grimmest duties of the Second World War. ‘Bomber Boys’ brilliantly restores these men to their rightful place in our consciousness.

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Review:

‘Deeply humane, lucidly written and powerful…Bishop, a war correspondent, has a keen eye for the stresses and strains of the job these boys did…All this bravery, and the way of life that supported it, are faithfully recorded in Bishop’s refreshingly unpretentious account.’ Michael Burleigh, Sunday Times

‘This is the best kind of military history – the kind in which the author never loses sight of the impact of war on its victims, German as well as British, and those who were left behind. “Bomber Boys” will remind the survivors that they and their lost comrades are not forgotten. And it reminds the rest of us what their war was all about.’ Daniel Johnson, Evening Standard

‘This is a terrific book, so riveting, exciting and moving that it must help bring back the Bomber Boys to their rightful place of honour. A true war memorial.’ Montagu Curzon, Spectator

‘A compelling account of life in RAF Bomber Command…[Bishop] covers every aspect of their lives…as he tells their stories, he keeps hold of the strategy that led these men to be flying in the first place.’ Telegraph

‘Wonderfully sensitive and sympathetic…Bishop has produced a superb human portrait of the men who did so many remarkable things over Germany…this book is a fitting memorial to their sacrifice, and an admirably judicious verdict on the successes and failures of the bomber offensive.’ Daily Mail

‘Bishop narrates with the combination of cool curiosity and warm engagement common to the best foreign correspondents (a category to which, of course, he belongs)…Above all, he reveals how humanity stubbornly survives even within inhumanity…May Patrick Bishop’s moving, sensitively written book gain many readers.’ Frederick Taylor, Literary Review

‘Within a clear history and analysis of the big picture is a testimony to the dangers, sacrifices and heroics of the Bomber Boys.’ Daily Mail

‘This book is…a tribute to the courage of the “Bomber Boys” themselves. It is not only persuasively argued but also thrilling and in places profoundly moving.’ Daily Express

‘I closed the book feeling a great flood of pity for both the bombed and the bombers. There is no contradiction: both were the sacrificial victims of war…as in all good books, it is the details that stick in the mind.’ Mail on Sunday

‘Brings vividly to life the experiences of the nearly half million people who served in Bomber Command…makes superb use of interviews with veterans, but also covers the strategic and moral issues with admirable objectivity and clarity.’ The Times

‘Bishop builds up an intimate day-to-day portrait of life in Bomber Command, through an extensive series of interviews…superbly written and authoritative…the members of Bomber Command now have a fitting commenmoration of their heroic deeds.’ The Observer

Sunday Times:

'Deeply humane, lucidly written and powerful...Bishop is especially good on the psychological effects...'

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