While Others Slept

RAF World War II
ISBN 1-873203-72-1
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by Eric Woods
An RAF observer/navigator's experiences with 106 Squadron, 144 Squadron and 61 Squadron during World War Two 1940/41.

This detailed account of the early years of RAF Bomber Command will be of value to historians, researchers and aviation enthusiasts interested in the period but is also a compelling read for general readers with an interest in the RAF and World War 2

In this well-written memoir, Eric 'Timber' Woods recalls his flying experiences with 106 Squadron, flying from RAF Finnigley near Doncaster and 144 Squadron and 61 Squadron, both flying from RAF Hemswell in Lincolnshire, as a navigator of a twin-engined Handley-Page Hampden bomber during 1940/41.

Eric's recollections give an informative first-hand perspective on the early years of RAF Bomber Command and of the particular challenges that faced the crews of the relatively small twin-engined bomber aircraft in use at the time.

These aircraft, although remembered with affection by those who flew them, lacked speed and manoeuvrability and suffered heavy losses.

Eric tells of his numerous sorties over enemy-occupied Europe and of many 'close shaves', including a disastrous crash landing in the UK with the aircraft's bomb-load still aboard, which he and his fellow crew miraculously survived. Although he suffered severe injuries which led to hospitalisation, he resumed flying duties and completed his 'tour' of 31 operational missions over enemy territory.

He subsequently transferred to RAF Transport Command for the remaining years of the war.

At all times modest and unexaggerated, this is an exemplary account of wartime flying which is highly recommended to historians and aviation enthusiasts, or indeed, anyone who enjoys a real-life adventure story.

In 1946 Eric joined  the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and spent over two years operating on Flying Boats, but following the retirement of these wonderful machines from service he transferred to more conventional aircraft, spending 18 years flying worldwide routes as a navigator, moving from piston-engined aeroplanes to jets.

His recollections of these years are to be found in his book Climb to and Maintain, also published by Woodfield.

He left BOAC in 1964, moving over to the legislative side of aviation by joining the organisation which eventually be-came the Civil Aviation Authority, where he worked as a flight crew examiner, eventually heading up that unit.

In retirement he delivered popular talks on aviation to ex-service and other groups.

Eric 'Timber' Woods passed away on 24th February 2012, aged 90. We are proud to have been able to publish his memoirs. To add a tribute to him click here.

details: softback | 140 x 205 mm | 180 pages
genre: military memoir / air forces and warfare / real-life adventure
readership: military historians / aviation enthusiasts / general readers
themes: RAF in World War II / RAF Bomber Command