robert brokenmouth 2023

Is it that time of year again? The Top Ten music things?

Well, I've barely seen 10 bands, or heard anything like a cross-section of music this year to be honest about any sort of top ten in music. 

So, I thought, what else is there? Ten top heroes from Doctors Without Borders? Ten top stupid religions? Ten top pointless and cruel conflicts?

So, what's my other thing? Books. Ten top books I've read this year? Hmmm... Kim Stanley Robinson, Richmal Crompton, Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie and a ton of Conan books and Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith ... and a pile of Bomber Command books. Uh-huh. Top ten Conan books? Top ten 1930s scifi? Perhaps not.

... or ten top books on the topic I'm burrowing into again ...

I'm currently working on a book about an RAF navigator who flew in Bomber Command during World War 2. This requires a lot of research, but this list only partly reflects that. Some of the books listed are the ones which got me interested in the first place, others have captivated me since.

If you want to read them, pester the library - or go toabebooks.comand order a physical copy online. Bear in mind that postage from overseas is usually horrendous.

Top Ten Books by Bomber Command men who were there (in alpha by author)

Don Charlwood: “Journeys into Night.” Former RAAF bomber Pilot Charlwood is more famous for his earlier “novel” “No Moon Tonight”, but “Journeys”is more detailed and more real.

Leonard Cheshire: “Bomber Pilot”. Written and published while he was still an RAF bomber Pilot (and yet to win the VC); his later “The Face of Victory”reflects on his achievements with profound perspective; Cheshire founded the charity Cheshire Homes, and it’s still very active today. The best biography of him was written by Richard Morris.

Guy Gibson: “Enemy Coast Ahead”.Posthumously published after the war, the first edition was censored as the RAF weren't too happy with this VC-winning pilot's criticisms, which they removed. There is an uncensored version, which is revealing; again, the best biography of Guy Gibson was written by Richard Morris.

J. Douglas Harvey:“Boys, Bombs and Brussels Sprouts”. Harvey was a Pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force; his account here is somewhere between revealing, pithy and laugh-out-loud.

Hector Hawton:“Night Bombing.A humanist, Hawton worked behind the scenes in the RAF's No. 4 Group, Bomber Command; this book was published with “The Men Who Fly “in 1944. Despite unavoidable aspects of propaganda, both books look at the reality of bomber crews.

Bruce Lewis:“Aircrew: The Story of the Men Who Flew the Bombers”.Lewis was a formerRAFWireless Operator who flew 36 operations; here he tries to redress an imbalance of perspective, using anecdotes from veterans.

Harry Lomas: "One Wing High". RAF Pilot Lomas' autobiographical account of his tour in Bomber Command. Quite a lot of humour in this one.

Michael Renaut: "Terror By Night". Another autobiographical account by an RAF Pilot in Bomber Command - this one is distinctive as it confronts what thousands of men endured on every operation - fear.

Miles Tripp: "The Eighth Passenger". RAF Bomb Aimer Tripp's book was also quite revolutionary in Bomber Command memoirs; the 'eighth passenger' was fear. This memoir complements his previous "novel", "Faith Is A Windsock".

Harry Yates: "Luck and a Lancaster". Another RAF Pilot's memoir, again loaded with detail and humour.

I could as easily list another 20, including (off the top of my head) books by Tom Sawyer, Andrew Wiseman, J. Douglas Harvey, Paul Goodwin, Andrew Maitland, Dan Brennan, Richard C. Rivaz, John Bushby, Ray Ollis and John Bede Cusack (these last two are the ones I annotated for Wakefield Press - which would make excellent Christmas presents).