A Short War, The History of 623 squadron


A Short War, The history of 623 squadron by Steve Smith.

This is a history of an often overlooked and neglected bomber squadron, No.623 Squadron.  Formed from No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron in August 1943 the squadron flying from RAF Downham Market participated in a number of the important raids on Germany during the summer and winter of 1943, losing a number of crews in the process. Made up almost entirely of Commonwealth skippers the squadron flying the Short Stirling had its fair share of difficulties, losing ten crews before it was disbanded in December 1943. Continue reading A Short War, The History of 623 squadron

Book Review: Commanding Far Easter Skies


Commanding Far Eastern Skies“Commanding Far Eastern Skies” by Peter Preston-Hough has its origins in a PhD dissertation  that was done by the Author , which itself asserts itself as the only one related to the RAF in the far east.

The author is a visiting lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton and this book is published as one of the series of the Wolverhampton Military Studies.

The Book is organised into four major ‘Chapters’ , devoted to the Early Warning Organisation, the British Aircrew Tactics, the Counter Air Campaign, and the Japanese Industry.  As expected there is very little of the ‘eye-witness’ accounts that we have come to expect and more of clinical research into existing archives.

The Author covers considerable ground in referring to original archives at NA, and it is a different sort of a pleasure to read the foot notes to discover documents that one had no idea of! The first chapter covers hitherto uncovered ground in discussing the AMES (Radar) Units in the SEAC Sector.

The second and third chapters are where the tactics used by the Allied air forces as well as the counter air campaign of 1944 is discussed at length.  While other books tend to overwhelm the readers in discussing Orbats, this one simplifies the opposing numbers by referring to industrial output reports and intelligence reports.

As a result, there are some surprising revelations – like the fact there were less than 70 Japanese fighters based in Burma during  the end of 44, and virtually no air opposition by the time Rangoon fell in 1945. If the reader grasps the massive numbers put up by the Allied Air Forces in India in anticpationof the Burma Campaign, its easier to picture why aerial encounters were far and few in between.  No wonder the intensity of the operations and aircrew losses was one tenth of what the allies experienced in the European theatre.

The author is to be commended for his pioneering attempt at analysing the Far eastern air campaign, and the extensive references provided in the book . While the book is a serious academic study of the Far Eastern Air War, it may not be a sought after read for the average reader unless they share a deep passion for the CBI/SEAC theatre.

Author Preston-Hough, P.
Publisher Helion & Company
ISBN 9781910294444
Date of Publication May 2015
Edition No
Binding Hardback
Book Size 234mm x 156mm
Number of pages 308 pages
Images 10 b/w photos, 3 maps, 13 tables

From Sapper to Spitfire Spy

‘From Sapper to Spitfire Spy,’ A wartime biography of David Greville-Heygate DFC

by Sally-Anne Greville-Heygate

Called up by the army in August 1939 David Greville-Heygate operated a searchlight until commissioned at Sandhurst. Posted to the Loyals in Portsmouth he had ‘a bit of a row’ with his Brigadier and labelled an Army Rebel he transferred to the RAF. After training as an Army Co-operation pilot he flew No. 16 Squadron Lysanders and Mustangs. Photographs he took of Northern France were used to plan the D-Day landings.

Continue reading From Sapper to Spitfire Spy

Beaufighter T4746 – “Failed to Return” 12 April 1942

By Stephen Adler   – 12 August 2015    Addess01  Max Addess in RAF uniform, and his sister Nina in 1941               

My uncle Max Addess, a pilot with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, went missing in action on 12 April 1942 together with his observer Sergeant B.A.T. Lane when their Beaufighter T4746 failed to return to its base. It was only Max’s second operational flight. Until now, no one has been able to determine what happened during the mission, and all that has been known remained the matter-of-fact comment in the Operations Record Book for RAF North Coates, mentions the loss from 236 Squadron that, “The machine failed to return from the Operation”.


However, following research not only in the RAF records here, but also looking into the German flak and coastal defence records in the Bundesarchiv in Berlin, I believe the plane was probably shot down over Stavanger by a German flak unit and crashed into the fjord where presumably it remains to this day.

Here is the story.   Continue reading Beaufighter T4746 – “Failed to Return” 12 April 1942

Pending Review : Commanding Far Eastern Skies

Commanding Far Eastern Skies Received this book recently – to add to the  RAF in SEAC field.

The book takes an academic approach to analyzing the RAF’s operation in India and Burma. – its based on a PhD dissertation that the author had worked on.

First impressions: It may not work for everyone but for the  hardcore SEAC buffs.  It is packed with lots of interesting data points, extensive references to archival documents , details of Radar Units and Observer Corps usage etc.

But its not light reading. I will post a detailed review once completed.  In the meantime you can check out the publisher’s page on this book here.

70 Years ago today – The crash of Mosquito KB416

Seventy Years ago, Today, 3rd July 1945, De Havilland Mosquito KB416 , of No.627 Squadron crashed at RAF Woodhall Spa. The pilot Flt Lt D N Johnson was attempting to forceland after the misfiring of one of the engines.. A series of events caused it to stall and crash. Johnson perished.  But his navigator, Pilot Officer J  D Finlayson survived, thanks to a  remarkable attempt by one of the Crash Crew members on site, Corporal Stephen J Cogger, and a civilian who arrived at the site.  Finlayson was initially trapped trying to extricate himself and was ultimately helped by Cogger and others on the site.  During the rescue attempt, Cpl Cogger received burns on his face and body.

J D Finlayson Continue reading 70 Years ago today – The crash of Mosquito KB416

70 Years ago … Today…

By Matt Poole

Today is the 70th anniversary of the downing of 355 Sqn Liberator KH250, hit by AA fire during an attack on Port Blair, S. Andaman Island (the westernmost point of Japanese expansion, I believe) on 17 May 1945.

Of the eleven-man crew, only one was able to bale out: 1516012 F/Sgt Harold WYNNE. After three months of incarceration in Japanese hands in Port Blair, Wynne was executed by lethal injection on 17 August 1945 — after Hirohito’s surrender radio broadcast. Wynne and four of his crewmates, including their skipper, 177155 F/O Rowland TOTHAM, were on their first op in the Far East after completing a tour on Lancasters of 101 Sqn. Totham was awarded a DFC for his 101 Sqn tour. Continue reading 70 Years ago … Today…

Fighter Pilot: The Life of Battle of Britain Ace Bob Doe

Fighter Pilot: The Life of Battle of Britain Ace Bob Doe  by Helen DoeBook-FighterPilot

Published by Amberley Books, hardback, 288 pages, 70 photos, £25

The  book tells story of Wg Cdr Bob Doe’s RAF career. From humble beginnings he joined the RAFVR  in 1938 and then became fighter pilot. But it was not that easy and his success in the Battle of Britain was against the odds as he thought he was the worst pilot in the squadron.   Continue reading Fighter Pilot: The Life of Battle of Britain Ace Bob Doe

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