Brothers in Arms written by Chris Goss and published by Pen & Sword Books – £25.00 – Hardback – Pages 296

The unforgiving and deadly combats fought in the skies over the United Kingdom during the Battle of Britain were, in many respects, personal affairs – one man against another. These duels, and the emotions and stress they generated, are revealed in this day-to-day, blow-by-blow account of the part that two front line fighter units, one British and one German, played in the events of the summer of 1940.

This is the story of the Battle of Britain as seen through the eyes of the men of 609 (West Riding) Squadron, based in southern England, and 1/JG53, a Luftwaffe staffel based in northern France. The tense action of aerial combat and the relief felt by individual pilots surviving these encounters, the elation of a successful ‘kill’, or the tragedy of seeing a friend shot down, highlight the common fears felt by airmen on both sides of the fight.

We learn of exhausting, unremitting action, and days of frustrating weather-induced inactivity, along with those brief moments of leisure and pleasure grasped from the daily struggle for survival. What we also discover is that there was, in many regards, little difference in the experiences and reactions between the men defending king and country and those fighting for the Führer – creating a form of bond derived from those shared experiences, of indeed, brothers in arms.

This is a fascinating book as we are introduced and go through the history of two squadrons, the British 609 Squadron and the 1 Staffel of the Jagdgeschwader 53 “Pik As”. These two squadrons would meet each other in the skies above in England in the Battle of Britain, a unique book in that we just read about these two flying squadrons. I have read a book before by Chris Goss, I think Luftwaffe Aces of the Battle of Britain is another excellent book and very well written by Goss as he goes into great detail and it is good to read about someone who is such an expert on the German Luftwaffe.

This book uses personal accounts and accounts from unit newspapers to help bring the story together. This book is very much a ‘Brothers in Arms’ story in that it brings the stories together of stories of men from both sides essentially doing the same craft in order to have the winning outcome, with only one able to win. I really enjoyed this book and it was I felt, another good book from an excellent historian in Chris Goss.