Bob Baxter's Bomber Command

Air Battle of the Ruhr

Airlife Publishing Ltd........... by Alan Cooper.........ISBN 9 781840 372137

224 pages Paperback

Air Battle of the Ruhr

Alan Cooper is an author of many years standing who has carved a well deserved niche for himself as an RAF historian.

Alan first sets the scene by describing the progressive build up and mobilisation of Bomber Command from it's early days to the onset of WWII, before leading the reader through the build up then into the furore that was to become the 'Air Battle of the Ruhr', in his clear and easily understandable style.

He goes on to describe many aspects of the life of Bomber aircrew; aborted operations, training, and the contribution Bomber Command made to the offensive against the Ruhr and German industries, amongst other highly factual and interesting accounts.

He speaks of the casualty rate and the affect on those who served - "changing from a boyish look at the beginning of their tour with, perhaps, a sense of adventure, to later, a look of dazed disbelief similar to shell-shock or being punch drunk.".

The book includes personal accounts and anecdotes as well as statistics for bombers dispatched; the number which actually reached the targes and the number which did not reach the targets for whatever reason.

Some personal accounts used in this book include:

  • Being hit by flak over Gelsenkirchen causing the bomb doors to become jammed with an engine on fire

  • The exceptional bravery of a rear-gunner who, despite being gravely injured during a nught-fighter attack, continued to give the pilot directions to evade the fighters' attacks. He became the most highly decorated NCO in the RAAF by the end of the war.

  • The difference in perspective between crews; a Wellington Crew and a Lancaster crew over Dortmund; each thought that the other had had a more difficult run.

  • The accuracy of the German spotlights over Essen.

Essential reading for anyone with an interest in this period of Bomber Command history.