Over Hell and High Water

RAF World War II
ISBN 1-873203-70-5
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  • Description

by Leslie Parsons
The author's two full operational tours as an RAF navigator with 622 Squadron of RAF Bomber Command on bombing raids over Germany and 99 Squadron operating in the Far East over vast stretches of the Indian ocean.


Les Parsons trained as a navigator and became a member of a Lancaster crew with 622 Squadron, operating from RAF Mildenhall. They completed 31 missions over Germany and occupied Europe during 1944 and their escapades over targets such as Bremen, Duisburg, Bonn, Essen, Cologne and Dortmund make up the early part of the narrative.

But their war was far from over after completing this perilous ‘tour of duty’ with Bomber Command. Despite assurances that they were to be ‘rested’ from dangerous flying operations, they soon found themselves over enemy territory again, this time flying an American-built Liberator with 99 Squadron from Dhubulia, Northern India to attack targets in Burma. Then they moved to an even more remote spot, the tiny Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean, from where the RAF mounted attacks on Japanese forces in Sumatra, Malaysia and Burma.

Flying enormous distances over the ocean with no chance of rescue should anything go wrong, Les and his crew completed a number of perilous missions, dropping supplies and weapons to guerilla groups in the Burmese highlands, and later (after the cessation of hostilities) dropping much-needed supplies to relieve the starving inmates of former Japanese-run POW camps.

All this and more is described in an unpretentious and entertaining fashion in this well-written account of one RAF navigator’s uniquely varied wartime experiences.