Thousands of people visit air shows each summer. They love to look at planes.
But many visitors have little understanding of the dangers of early combat flight. The proportion of aircraft suffering problems in the sky was alarmingly high.
OF SONS AND SKIES is a fresh, accessible exploration of the terrifying challenges, complexity and consequences of aerial combat – a huge, complex topic, but one I felt compelled to tackle upon learning of the losses experienced by British air crew between 1939 and 1945.
There are many books profiling particular aircraft, squadrons, battles and/or pilots, but very few titles provide a context for all those impressive, individual circumstances. OF SONS AND SKIES travels the reader through the six years and explains in lay terms the strategy and tactics deployed and their impact.
I was inspired to write this book after interviewing Ted Miles for a film about military veterans of World War Two – ‘We did our bit’.
I was shocked by the statistics of losses that Ted explained had occurred in his RAF Bomber Command squadron in Lincolnshire in 1943.
I was ashamed to have gone through life unaware of such terrible attrition by volunteer air crew in order to prosecute the war against Nazi Germany.
Rather than concentrating on the popular topic of ‘The Few’ Spitfire pilots in the Battle of Britain, the book devotes a chapter to each year of the war to reveal the complexity of issues, locations, undertakings and impacts across the globe.
It is aimed at lay readers, not military or aviation enthusiasts.
“Brilliant” “Magnificent” “Fascinating” “Excellent” “Wonderful”
Unpicks popular myths of simple battle triumphs
Profiles original media coverage of key events
Key quotes from Winston Churchill
Pithy commentary courtesy of Sir Max Hastings
Irreverent observations on the belligerent nations
Reveals how lucky we are not to have lived and served through those violent times
‘Fascinating and accessible’ Kay Stevens, Ledbury Book Club
‘Terrific’ John Elkington Malvern U3A
‘I couldn’t put it down’ Ian Beer, ex-Head, Harrow School
‘Brilliant’ Air Vice Marshal Paul Robinson, Bomber Command Centre, Lincoln
‘Magnificent – I heartily recommend it’ Christine Sylvester, Worcester History Society
Devoting a chapter to each year of the war, the book explains how difficult it was to convey armed planes across the sea to try to damage enemy forces, factories or civil facilities – a terrifying prospect in bad weather, facing guns on the ground, or aboard fast fighter planes, all determined to inhibit your passage.
“Takes you on an amazing journey of staggering significance”