Eyewitness RAF written by James Goulty and published by Pen & Sword Books – £25.00 – Hardback – Pages 250

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 demobilization 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.

What a fantastic book to read, about the RAF during world war two, this book takes a look at recollections, accounts and stories of the men and women who served in the RAF at that time. The book covers everything really from training to working in different roles, casualties and finally being demobbed. You can tell the author James Goulty writes from a university background, not because the book is very formal but because of the way it is structured. I loved the writing enormously, very well-paced and the right balance was struck between who was written about and the amount each section was covered. But the best was the real telling of the stories and the humour emphasis of the author, a man who has and shares the good dry wit that was similar to the people he was talking about. It was nice to read about the role and voice of women, as many of these books about the forces are male-centric. The notes section was good and informative, I’ve taken a few titles down to do further reading. (lookout my local library). The glossary was also informative and handy, it is good to have a book that supports all the acronyms and abbreviations it uses. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in the RAF and its role in WW2, one of the best books I have read in a while.

By Ben Davidson

Hello, I have been studying all aspects of history for about 25 years. I have a BA History from the University of Bedfordshire. My historical areas of interest are anything really, but I specialise in 19th - 20th century Britain, America and Ireland. I am also strongly aligned with most military history, really enjoying WW2 and the US Civil War. Chuck in the king or queen and Bob's your uncle.