You may have had to read the title of this blog twice, because if you know me at all then you will know I rarely read non-fiction, let alone WW2 history. I was never a world war history fan when I was at school, I found all the battle names and date recollection boring. I wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of doing WW2 research, but I had an idea for a book set during and after WW2. I knew next to nothing about the RAF and my limited school education had been mostly forgotten. I realised that if I was going to write about a character who served in the RAF during WW2 then I would need to do some serious research.
I went to my local bookshop first but had no luck, so I reluctantly turned to the internet. I found a couple of brief history books on WW2 and another couple on the RAF during WW2. I hoped I wouldn’t find them dull, but I wasn’t optimistic.
One of my new books was a slim hardback with the title ‘Tales Of Lancasters And Other Aircraft’ By George Culling. I started to read this book and within minutes I was utterly absorbed. I couldn’t believe how well the author had put across all of the information, it wasn’t painful to read or boring like my old school lessons. There were accounts by real RAF Airmen who had flown aircraft across the English Channel to Germany. Their stories covered everything from problems with their planes, dreadful weather conditions, disputes between team members, and their many lucky escapes. The history in these accounts brought the past back to life with a real human element. These Airmen were not just mere statistics, they were people with lives and families fighting for survival. Finally I could appreciate the enormity of the war and the struggles that these brave young men went through. It hit home just how many lives were lost and ‘Lest We Forget’ kept circling through my mind as I continued to read. What a complete injustice my school education had done to these men and the war they had fought in.
I knew then exactly what I wanted. I wanted the personal accounts of real people who had lived and/or fought in the war. I wanted to know what life was like with the constant threat of bombing and the agonising wait of word from loved ones. I wanted to know what people thought and how they coped. I wanted to know what it was like for the men who flew the planes and how they reacted when they realised friends had died in action. Did the German public even know what was going on in the death camps? What did the German’s think of the rest of Europe and the world? What did women do during the war? What did the children think? What had actually caused the war and Hitler’s uprising? These are the questions that fascinate me, not the historical dates and place names of battles.
The only way you can really understand the true horror of war is by reading the personal accounts and daily lives of those who fought in the war. ‘Tales Of Lancasters An Other Aircrafts’ is packed full of information about the planes and their crew, as well as the incredible stories of the men who flew in these planes. I highly recommend it for both those who are already interested in WW2 history, and those who, like myself, were put off WW2 history during school. This book will change your mind and open your eyes.