Another Joe Gleason Book Review
Victory at All Costs
ON OPERATIONS OVER HITLER’S REICH WITH THE CREWS OF BOMBER COMMAND THEIR WAR – THEIR WORDS
By: Andrew R. B. Simpson
Victory at All Costs
Author, Andrew R. B. Simpson
Book Review by: Joseph J. Gleason
This is the first work by Andrew Simpson that I have read and I have to say it is not a quick and easy read due in large part to the fact that the font size is extremely small. It makes me wonder if the work isn’t better suited for distribution in digital format. If there is a large print version available the reader should take note and order it. Having said that, the author, draws upon his background as a former volunteer with the 4th Battalion, Parachute Regiment, in the late 1970’s with an Honors Degree in History, demonstrating his passion for detail as he provides the reader with so many personal accounts of the operations of war.
His numerous first hand accounts of many of the thousands of young volunteers who went into service through bomber training speak to the passion and the inseparable bonds formed among those who fought from the skies with those who invaded enemy territories by land and those who where shot down, survived life in prison camps, and suffered interrogation at the hands of the enemy, detailing the techniques used at the Luftwaffe Interrogation Center and the “great escape” from Stalag Luft III in March of 1944.
The author’s meticulous attention to details seems a natural propensity as evident from his professional training and practice as an architect, making for a somewhat labored reading of this compilation of personal accounts. In one respect it is a an admirable work of historical significance as the author illustrates for the reader the development of the art of aerial bombing, from aircraft design through navigation, including the evolution of gunnery tactical support.
What may make this writing unique is the author’s exposure of the resentment expressed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Bomber Command, Air Marshall Arthur Harris. According to Simpson, Commander Harris never forgave the government for not giving full official recognition to the ground crews whose tireless efforts were so vital to the success of these missions.
It is clear from this work that the author draws much of his inspiration from the reading of the personal accounts of his father who served as a pilot on an Australian bomber squadron during 1943-1944 and his grandfather who received the OBE for his contribution as the oldest serving Royal Naval officer in World War I.
This work will appeal to any reader interested in a most detailed account of the events that influenced the outcome of the war from the perspective of the bomber pilots who flew the Hampden, Whitley and Wellington medium bombers and the heavier Stirling, Halifax and Lancaster aircraft, the navigators and ground crew who supported them.
For the history buff with the most insatiable appetite for the details of life as a bomber pilot from the human perspective you will find this a most satisfying work of extraordinarily detailed documentation. The author does an admirable service for in preserving the testimony of so many.