Nobody Unprepared 78 Squadron RAF

Nobody Unprepared : The history of 78 Squadron

RAF World War II
ISBN 1-903953-15-4
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by Vernon Holland
An illustrated account of the activities of an RAF Bomber Command squadron during World War II.

Illustrated with many historic photographs and featuring details of every sortie flown, this profile of an RAF Bomber Command squadron during the Second World War is a valuable historical resource as well as being a heartfelt tribute to all former squadron personnel and a respectful memorial to those who lost their lives.

This book records the wartime exploits of No. 78 Squadron RAF, one of many similar squadrons under the control of RAF Bomber Command during World War II. Drawn from the squadron’s operational record books (ORBs) augmented by first-hand accounts from former squadron personnel and additional background information, it provides an accurate picture of life on an operational squadron in the wartime years.

It contains a catalogue of all the operations flown by the squadron aircrews and a comprehensive list of all the aircraft and personnel lost in action. The list is a sobering reminder of the high price paid to defeat the Third Reich by young men who faced the prospect of death every time their aircraft took off for a mission over enemy territory.

Many lost their lives, were injured or taken prisoner after landing in enemy territory. Those who survived were left with shattered nerves and painful memories of lost comrades. This book is a tribute to them and to all the other squadron personnel who supported them; the ground crews who kept the aircraft flying and the many others who contributed to the upkeep of an operational RAF Station.

Flying the twin-engine Armstrong Whitworth Whitley at first, then converting to the four-engine Handley Page Halifax, the squadron’s principal bases were RAF Linton-on-Ouse, RAF Middleton St. George and RAF Breighton in East Yorkshire. From here they set out time and again to join forces with other squadrons to attack targets on the European mainland as far away as Italy. Principal campaigns included the Battle of the Rhur, the Battle of Berlin, the Peenemünde Raid and support of the invasion forces before, during and after D-Day 6th June 1944.

In total, the squadron dropped 17,000 tonnes of bombs and mines during 6,337 operational sorties, also claiming 28 enemy fighters shot down. Although a great deal of damage was done to German industrial capacity, the cost was high. The raids into Germany were especially costly in men and machines because these targets were particularly well defended by flak and night fighters. No. 78 Squadron lost 182 aircraft, 910 aircrew were killed and 272 taken prisoner. The names of all these men are listed in the appendix to this narrative.

It is important to remember that the fight was a collective effort and that many squadron personnel came from our allies in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa, plus others from the USA, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Their dedication and sacrifice should never be forgotten by those of us fortunate enough to have enjoyed the peace they fought so hard to achieve.

Details softback | large format | 205 x 290mm | 250 pages | b/w photos