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In For a Penny, In For a Pound: The Adventures and Misadventures of a Wireless Operator in Bomber Command [Kindle Edition]

Howard Hewer
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $14.99
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

The gripping story of the twentieth century’s greatest struggle in the modest voice of a Canadian teenager in the RAF.

In 1940, nineteen-year-old Howard Hewer dreamed of being the next Billy Bishop, of piloting Spitfires or Hurricanes over Europe. His dream was shattered when he was selected instead for a career as a wireless operator in Bomber Command.

But he got all the adventure he signed on for. Hewer and his crews of 218 and 148 Squadrons flew important night operations over Germany and North Africa, dropping their deadly payloads and dodging enemy flak.

And he was not always much safer on the ground. He survived the Blitz in London, a U-boat attack in the South Atlantic, a fire-fight with Italian troops near el-Alamien, as well as chaste love affairs, fistfights, and beers with Boer rebels.

Self-deprecating, bittersweet, and alive to both the horrors of war and the friendships and courage of the men and women who fight it, In for a Penny, In for a Pound is the unforgettable story of a young Canadian’s experience of history’s greatest war.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews


“Like a perfectly aged wine, bursting forth in splendid maturity after fifty-five years in cask. It’s a riveting tale, perfectly told.”
Toronto Star

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Wing Commander T.W.H. (Howard) Hewer, CD, RCAF (retired), flew operations in Bomber Command during the Second World War as a wireless operator in 148 and 218 Sqdns. He has received the Queen’s Coronation Medal, the Queen’s Golden Anniversary Medal, the Malta George Cross Fiftieth Anniversary Medal, and the Canadian Special Service Medal. Hewer lives in Toronto with his wife, Doris.

Product Details

  • File Size: 7345 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Canada (August 27, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0041G5XM4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,311,180 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing February 15, 2003
"In For A Penny, In For A Pound" by Howard Hewer, sub-titled: "The Adventures And Misadventures Of A Wireless Operator In bomber Command". Stoddard Publishing, Toronto, Canada, 2000.
This book recounts the experiences of T. W. H. Hewer as a young man and a wireless operator in the Royal Canadian Air Force. As a young teenager, Howard Hewer had dreams of flying Spitfires, so he enlisted in the Canadian Air Force, which decided, at that moment, they had a greater need for radio operators than for pilots. He was shipped to Calgary for training in radio operations. Hewer then tells the story of his training as an enlisted radio operator, and his experience during bombing raids on Nazi held Europe. He retired as Wing Commander.
Young Hewer was well aware of the cultural differences between the British and the Canadians. He devotes an entire chapter (Chapter 6, "Yatesbury Wireless School - Collision of Cultures) to describe the class-conscious Brits and the young Canadians being trained in England. Throughout the book, these cultural differences will pop up, and, in some instances, be of major importance. In Chapter 19, (A Fine Line To Mutiny), it would appear that the British wanted a level of discipline that neither the Australians nor the Canadians wanted to accept. Admittedly, it as an Australian who first threw down his rifle and refused to drill, but Hewer appears to have approved of the group's refusal to exercise and drill. He later implies that this "mutiny" was responsible for the delay of his commissioning as an officer.
This book is not just the usual recounting of the terrors of flying bombers into German held Europe. There is that, of course, but Hewer narrates a story that involves the European Theatre, flying to Malta, on to Egypt and then a trip, in a ship, around Africa.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Howard Hewer has done a wonderful job in bringing us his life in Bomber Command as a wireless operator flying in the belly of Wellington bombers. From his nights flying over Berlin to the bombing of North Africa to his time spent convalescing after a crash (when he went on some of his most dangerous missions), Hewer spares few details in providing a colorful first-hand account. Anyone with even a passing interest in war memoirs, or who truly enjoys the view of the world from 10,000 feet, should read this book. Without a doubt the best memoir I've read in a long time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent memoir of life in Bomber Command and beyond November 26, 2007
This is a well-written memoir by Canadian wireless operator Howard Hewer, who flew more than his share of ops during WWII and contributed in both the European and North African theatres. Ironically, the title, "In for a Penny, in for a Pound" is also part of the libretto of Gilbert and Sullivan's light opera, Iolanthe, which continues: "It's love that makes the world go round." One wonders if the author intended any hidden commentary by referring to this particularly well-known couplet in such a context.

Laced with stories typical of the war, Mr. Hewer's fine recounting also provides insight into that damnable situation which existed on the Allied side: the treatment of so-called "colonials" by RAF personnel. Truly, it's a wonder the English were able to win the war at all, when one considers the tomfoolery they frequently got up to in relation to Canadian, South African, NZ, Australian and other Commonwealth troops fighting alongside. Since Mr. Hewer flew mainly as a non-com, this work also provides us with insight into the lives of the lower ranking members of the military establishment of the day.

Bomber Command was perhaps the most effective force fighting against Nazism prior to D-Day, but there was a very high cost paid in lost aircrews on each mission. Mr. Hewer reflects on the obvious: why was it he somehow always came back. This tension is woven throughout the text, making the book successful at yet another level, since who would really want to write or read a war memoir and come away smiling. It is not a pretty story, yet the author has presented it to us in a lively and balanced manner, making the book eminently readable while allowing a strongly-voiced message about war to come through as well. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Lucky Find November 25, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Published more than a decade ago, this is a surprisingly good account of life as a WW2 RAF Wireless Operator-Air Gunner (WAG). Mr. Hewer very capably describes his wartime career, from training in Canada and Britain, to operations over Germany in the initial phases of the strategic bombing campaign. Hoping to stay with his friend and pilot, Hewer then heads to the Middle East, where he continues to fly on Wellingtons out of bases in Egypt, ranging across the Mediterranean against Axis forces in Italy, Greece, Libya and Crete. He provides the reader with an exciting account of the bombing operations in which he took part, in what was a relatively obscure theatre of air warfare. Along the way he gives us a vivid description of the attendant complexities of life in Cairo as a member of the British forces, encounters with the Long Range Desert Force, meeting David Sterling of the SAS, and a brief intersection with Air Marshal Tedder and his wife. The author explains that subsequent to their meeting, Mrs. Tedder died in an airplane crash that Hewer (and sadly, Tedder) witnessed. Overall, with its detail of the duties of a WAG, life as an NCO on a bomber squadron, travel during wartime, aircrew relationships, and life in the wartime Royal Air Force, this is a find addition to the aircrew memoir genre. In some ways, it is comparable to Murray Peden's excellent memoir, "A Thousand Shall Fall," though written from the perspective of a crew member instead of a pilot. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and heartily recommend it to those who have an interest in WW2 air operations, aircrew training, the RAF, and RAF operations in the Middle East.
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