The Cry of the Nightjar

Woodfield Publishing Ltd
ISBN 1-903953-81-2
Fiction/RAF
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by Gerhard Heilig
A fictionalised but highly realistic account  of the life of a WW2 bomber pilot

The story is based on the author’s real-life World War II experiences with No. 214 (Federated Malay States) Squadron RAF ~ a wartime bomber squadron (whose squadron crest featured the nightjar of the book’s title).

As the story progresses we follow an immature young recruit into the Royal Air Force and through the various stages of his aircrew training, culminating in his arrival on an operational squadron and his first sorties over hostile territory.

We also follow the ups and downs of his home and personal life as he rapidly matures from inexperienced youth to mature adult.

The story is rich in authentic period detail and is as accurate a portrayal of life in the wartime RAF as you are likely to read.


Gerhard Heilig, of Austro-Hungarian origin, arrived in England in December 1938 as a refugee from Nazi persecution. After school in Yorkshire and a spell as a telephone engineer in London, He joined the Royal Air Force as a wireless operator. He completed a tour with Bomber Command in 1944, followed by service with a transport squadron in the Far East until his release in the spring of 1947. He then entered civil aviation, gained his commercial pilot’s licence in 1954 and got his first command three years later. At the end of 1964 he took up a tempting offer by Austrian Airlines, moved to Vienna and has been living there ever since.