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London 1917–18: The bomber blitz (Campaign) Paperback – October 19, 2010
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“This book is the companion to the 2008 Campaign title London 1914–17 ... [it] tells the story of the Gotha and the massive Staaken 'Giant' bomber raids against London, the first bomber blitz. These raids were attempts at destroying British morale, especially for those living in the capital. As a result, London quickly overhauled its defenses providing the basis for Britons' defense during World War II.” ―www.mataka.org (October 2010)
“Ian Castle takes us through these raids with precise information on not only the aircraft involved, but also the flight path of each one and where each bomb was dropped. It is this level of detail that ... makes this book such a superb read.” ―Scott Van Aken, Modeling Madness (November 2010)
“...provides a fine, in-depth survey of the strategies and results of the bomber blitz in London during World War I. Military and British history are illustrated with color battle scenes, maps, and modern photos to enhance a collection perfect for any military collection.” ―The Midwest Book Review
About the Author
Ian Castle has lived in London all his life and balances writing with work in the advertising industry. He has been writing for Osprey for over 15 years. Ian regularly lectures at the National Army Museum in London and is a member of the Airship Heritage Trust.
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The author definitely captures the human aspect of these raids. Certain parts of the book read like a novel. In general, the author begins the narrative of each raid from a German point of view. The reader gains an understanding of the goals, the weather conditions, and sometimes the names of the pilots. As the raid progresses, the author switches to a British perspective. At this point, he discusses the damage, acts of heroism, and occasionally the names of the people involved. By describing each raid in detail, the reader gains a solid understanding of how this campaign progressed.
The book has four full color battle scenes. Each one describes a specific raid and conveys a feeling for the event. For example, one scene captures a crashing German Gotha bomber as seen by the British on the ground. At first glance, the reader might not notice a German pilot who jumped to his death. Upon reading the narrative and examining the drawing again, the reader sees this small detail and gets a sense of what happened.
Bottom line: This is a well written, chronological account of each raid. The events are described from both the German and British sides. Just as important, the author does an excellent job of describing individual acts of courage and heroism. In essence, he brings this campaign to life.
Once the British took the measure of Germany's Zeppelin force, the British mistakenly believed the aerial menace was ended. In fact, all that ensued was a temporary reprieve until Germany developed the G-type bomber in late 1916. Plans were put into effect, units formed and, in June 1917, bombers marked with the Iron Cross once more appeared in British skies. Initially the British faced twin-engined Gotha bombers, with a bombload of 1,100 lbs. but later had to deal with the four-engined Staaken 'Giants, which carried 4,400 lbs. of bombs. Initial British efforts to defend London were not successful but, after much experimentation and overhauling, a defense system was put in place that was effective...and served as the forerunner of the system that defeated Hitler's Luftwaffe in 1940. In the end, the material damage and 837 deaths inflicted by the German bombers did not break British will; 62 Gothas and Giants were lost in return.
LONDON 1917-18, THE BOMBER BLITZ is an excellent, easy-to-follow and well-illustrated overview of the 1917-18 attacks. After discussing early German ops against Britain, Castle describes the British and German commanders involved and the opposing plans before summarizing the 1917 and 1918 raids. A one-page 'The Sites Today' section presents information on present-day London locales with connection to the 1917-18 raids.
The illustrations, maps and diagrams that accompany Castle's text are especially noteworthy. They're very helpful in giving the reader a picture of "who did what where." Christa Hook's cover artwork leaves something to be desired but the three other paintings she contributed are quite nice.
All in all, LONDON 1917-18, THE BOMBER BLITZ is great value for the price and an entertaining and informative read to boot. Recommended.
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