'The Navy can lose us the war, but only the Air Force can win it. Therefore our supreme effort must be to gain overwhelming mastery in the air. The Fighters are our salvation but the Bombers alone provide the means of victory...' So said Prime Minister Winston Churchill to the War Cabinet on the first anniversary of the outbreak of war. But when Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939 her bombers were predominantly twin-engined types like the Wellington, Whitley and the Hampden which after suffering carnage during the day were soon switched to night operations. Wartime speeches alone cannot begin to describe the misery and fortitude, desperation and terror endured by the civilian population during the 'Blitz Nights' in Coventry, the London docklands and the East End as night after night bombs and incendiaries rained down on them. Their personal experiences and those of war correspondents like James Negley Farson are as vivid, poignant and descriptive as those of the bomber crews carrying the war to the enemy in the early night bomber offensive.These too are mostly recounted at first hand, sometimes in BBC broadcasts to the nation; and they include 'The Unanswerable Double'; 'Winged Words'; 'German Defences'; 'Getting Frightened'; 'Jump For It!
'; 'The Night The Fuel Ran Out'; 'Flames, Flares and Fires'; 'Busted Flush'; 'The Tail Gunner's Story' and 'Hampden and 'Wimpy' Ops'. They tell just what it was like to fly in a heavy bomber over occupied Europe.
Martin Bowman is one of Britain's best-known Second World War aviation historians and authors. His previous books have included works such as Legend of the Lancaster, Confounding the Reich, Duxford and the Big Wings, Clash of Eagles, Mosquito: Menacing the Reich and numerous titles in the exhaustive Air War series providing extensive coverage of operations carried out on D-Day and during the Market-Garden offensive at Arnhem. He lives in Norwich.