435 pages

By: Wg Cdr Guy Gibson

ISBN: 978-1-78438-490-6

Price: £9.99

Format: 198 x 129mm

Web: www.pen-and-sword.co.uk

There aren’t many books that should be on every military aviation fan’s reading list, but Guy Gibson’s Enemy Coast Ahead is one of them. This edition of the Dambuster commander’s memoir is accompanied by a foreword by noted World War Two historian James Holland, which offers valuable contextualisation of Gibson’s life, particularly regarding his personal relationships. This is followed by a section written shortly after Gibson’s death by Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, which celebrates the VC-winning pilot’s honesty and bravery, particularly concerning his candid accounts of the parties that broke the monotony of war. The author’s writing itself is stirring, recounting the early days of World War Two bomber operations as haphazard, highly individualised attacks in HandleyPage Hampdens, and conveying the extraordinary transformation of Bomber Command into the potent force it became. In between, his days as a Beaufighter night-fighter pilot are mentioned – by his own admission, he was not a success – and his return to take command of a squadron of Avro Manchesters, then Lancasters. Gibson doesn’t dwell on the dark side of combat – anecdotes of pranks and rivalry between Fighter Command’s ‘Glamour Boys’ and bomber crews show his depth of character.