RAF Bomber Command at War 1939-1945 written by Craig Armstrong and published by Pen & Sword Books – £19.99 – Hardback – Pages 192

The Royal Air Force had placed a great deal of faith in its force of bombers, Bomber Command, in the event of a future war. The belief in the ability of formations of bombers flying in daylight and unescorted, protecting themselves from enemy fighter attack, informed early tactics but led to bloody losses. Hampered by government restrictions on targets, by late 1941 Bomber Command was in crisis.

As a result, and coupled with the growing dire war situation, a new and forceful commander, Sir Arthur Harris, was appointed and new strategies allowed Bomber Command to broaden its attacks despite some opposition. The result was the area bombing strategy which focussed attacks upon enemy held towns and cities. This Main Offensive period lasted throughout 1943-1944 and saw both victories and defeats. It was also the period that saw a limited number of precision attacks; on Augsburg, Peenemunde and, most famously, the Ruhr dams.

Bomber Command also aided in tactical and strategic support for the invasion of Europe and the subsequent fight to push inland. New technological developments allowed Bomber Command to hit V-Weapons sites and to focus more on precision bombing, but Harris remained determined to hit German towns and cities whenever possible, while the Command’s growing power allowed it to rain devastation upon its targets, culminating at Dresden.

This book looks at the role, use and grand strategy of Bomber Command during WWII from start to finish. The book is also broken up into chapters with each chapter taking a year of the war to look at, which is good and makes the book or the story about Bomber Command easier to read and understand.  We learn about the heavy influence that Bomber Harris had upon the strategy and the particular planes used or favoured. This book also takes a more personal look at the air crews used in the war and their contribution to the effort. This book looks through archival and newspaper evidence and takes a view of what the general public thought about the ongoing war.

Craig Armstrong is one of the Pen & Sword authors I do like to read as I have read a few of his books before (South East Northumberland at War, Orkney and Scapa Flow at War & Tynemouth in the Great War), these books are always well written with good detail and ‘story’ telling but you’re not overly swamped with facts and details to deter the non-technical fan. This book is just the same and makes for a very good read, for a 192-page book you can’t get everything into the book you might need, but Armstrong has written a good book that covers all the main bases. I actually think it would make a good book for the newbie or the student who wants to learn more about the subject. Certainly a book I would recommend to others for a very good read.