Pen & Sword Books

Friday, March 24, 2023

The Berlin Blitz By Those Who Were There

The Berlin Blitz By Those Who Were There written by Martin W. Bowman

and published by Pen & Sword Books - £25 - Hardback - Pages 236

The Allied bombing of Berlin was the longest and most sustained bombing offensive

against one target in the Second World War. The Berlin Blitz By Those Who Were

There is a compelling, gripping and thought-provoking story of the Allied bombing

forces and the ordinary people on the ground, told in their own tongue and with

meticulous attention to detail. The result is a coherent, single story which unfolds

in a straightforward and incisive narrative.

This work draws attention in some detail to the major raids on the Reich capital by RAF Bomber Command from the late summer of 1940 to September 1943. It begins with the reliable but largely ineffective twin-engined Blenheims, Hampdens, Wellingtons and Whitleys, through to the introduction into front-line service of the four-engined ‘heavies’ - the Stirling, Manchester and Halifax, which bore the brunt of the bomber offensive until the advent of the incomparable Avro Lancaster in 1942 and the superlative Mosquito. On 30 January 1943, on the tenth anniversary of Hitler’s usurpation of power, two formations (each of three Mosquitoes) appeared over Berlin in daylight and interrupted large rallies being addressed by Goering and Goebbels.

Sir Arthur Harris, Commander-in-Chief, RAF Bomber Command, hoped to ‘wreck Berlin from end to end’ and ‘produce a state of devastation in which German surrender is inevitable’. But the ‘Big City’, as it was known to his faithful ‘old lags’, was never completely destroyed.

This book is very much how the title explains, in that it is about the people who were there rather than specifics about flights, bombings and airforces. The book is very much a collection of ideas and opinions of people that were involved in the various raids and bombing run with the build up to the events and the thoughts and feelings when they were in progress. Concentrating on the mid war period, the book relies heavily on what Bomber Command specialised in, that of the heavy bombers like the Stirlings, Lancasters and so on.

Like previous Martin W. Bowman books, he is clearly a leading WW2 historian and this shines through in the book and the writing. He has the ability to include technical details, opinions and story timeline all together to produce and easy to read book of a high standard. A thoroughly good read involving the Berlin Biltz, and one that certainly deserves recommendation.

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