At Sunday’s Air Show at Duxford, publisher Grub Street launched my latest book, Buccaneer Boys 2, a follow up to Buccaneer Boys published in 2013. A warm, sunny day, with the sound of many Rolls Royce Merlins as a backdrop, this was an ideal occasion for the launch. The previous evening in Thetford, over 25 Buccaneer veterans were joined by a large crowd to promote the book in an event at the Guildhall arranged by Jane James of ‘Not Just Books Ltd’.
This second volume follows the same style as its predecessor with 26 chapters written by “The Boys”, which embrace the earliest days in Fleet Air Arm service, RAF operations in UK and Germany, the Gulf War and a breathtaking chapter by a South African Air Force pilot of his experience during an operation in the Bush Wars.
This volume includes 91 obituaries of airmen and women published in the Daily Telegraph between 2007 and the end of 2017. Each entry has a photograph of the subject. With a focus on personnel from a number of air forces, including RAF, USAF, and the Commonwealth air forces, as well as some civilian aircrew, each one is a fascinating account of a distinguished life.
Those featured include senior RAF officers, Battle of Britain pilots, escapers and evaders and the courageous ladies who flew with the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). Gallant Poles, Czechs and Frenchmen are covered in addition to Brigadier General Paul Tibbets who dropped the first atomic bomb and a number of USAF fighter “Aces”. Those engaged in aviation medicine, aero engineering and the RAF Regiment are recognised.
In his Foreword, Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns, a former Chief of the Air Staff, concludes: “I have resisted the temptation to try to name names in this foreword with attribution of aeronautical achievements to individuals. It’s simply impossible to judge objectively their comparative value and it is for this reason that the book offers the reader many surprises that merit consideration and admiration in equal measure. Graham Pitchfork’s industry in compiling each and every one of the obituaries most certainly merits our congratulations and thanks”.
Beaufighter Boys was launched on 13 July at the Flying Legends Air Show at Duxford. This book is a departure from the Cold War for Grub Street’s ‘Boys Series’. I researched this book twenty years ago for a different project when Beaufighter aircrew gave freely of their stories, which ranged from complete memoirs to brief anecdotes together with many unique photographs. The book traces the various roles of Beaufighter squadrons operating in all theatres of World War Two operations. From UK bases, through NW Europe, North Africa, Malta and the Mediterranean, to the Far East and the SW Pacific. Three chapters are devoted to the operations of the RAAF and the numerous chapters outline the experiences of crew from the RCAF, the RNZAF in addition to RAF crews.
I was full of admiration for the all the ‘Beaufighter Boys’ I met and who helped with this project and it is to them that the book is dedicated.
Following the success of the hardback edition (over 8,500 copies sold), Grub Street have re-piublished the book as a paperback. This is one of four of the publisher’s ‘Boys Series’ to be reprinted and they form part of ‘The Jet Age Series’.
Reviews of the book include;
‘This wonderful book is entertaining and thoroughly engaging. The quality speaks for itself and I have no hesitation in recommending it to you’War History Online
‘Buccaneer Boys is an excellent read. For those who served during the 60s to 90s Cold War period, it is a must. For anyone with an interest in aviation, it is a most enjoyable book,’Air Mail
Royal Air Force Day by Day, first published in 208 to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the formation foe the RAF, has been republished to mark RAF 100, the RAF’s Centenary. The book has been brought up to date with new entries of events since 2008 and many photographs have been added. Some of the original illustrations have been replaced with more appropriate images. It is a diary of significant daily events providing a fascinating record of the RAF’s 100 year history. It describes not only the great air battles and major events, but also the tapestry of activities, traditions and culture that have created the rich heritage of the world’s oldest air force. The RAF’s current Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier KCB, CBE, DFC has written the Foreword.