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The Buccaneer Boys

 

A new book is being published on the 30th September, it's called 'The Buccaneer Boys' and made up of true tales by those who flew the 'last all-British bomber', [Hardcover], Graham Pitchfork (Author), Price: £20.00
Twenty-four aircrew who flew the iconic aircraft with the Fleet Air Arm, the Royal Air Force and the South African Air Force (SAAF) relate their experiences and affection for the Blackburn Buccaneer. Arranged in chronological order, the book traces the history of the aircraft and the tasks it fulfilled. In addition to describing events and activities, it provides an insight into the lifestyle of a Buccaneer squadron and the fun and enjoyment of being a 'Buccaneer Boy' in addition to being part of a highly professional and dedicated force. The introduction into service is fully described before further chapters cover the development of the air force's maritime tactics and the deployment of two squadrons to Germany in the overland strike role. Two chapters cover the aircraft's stunning successes at the Red Flag and Maple Flag exercises flown in North America which took the USAF hierarchy by storm. A further chapter is devoted to the intensive but little known Bush War operations by 24 SAAF Squadron on the borders of Angola. Two USAF exchange officers who flew Buccaneers relate their experiences and the aircraft's deployment for the Lebanon crisis and the reinforcement exercise to the Falkland Islands is examined. The introduction of new air-to-surface anti-ship missiles is covered before the Buccaneer left to go to war in the Gulf where it distinguished itself providing precision laser marking for the Tornado force in addition to carrying out its own precision bombing attacks. This lavishly-illustrated book concludes with accounts of the aircraft's final days in RAF service and some reflections on its impact on maritime and overland air power.

Note: I believe Air Commodore Pitchfork was a Flt Lt on 800 Squadron 1965-66


More information can be found at http://www.amazon.co.uk/books/dp/1909166111

 

Frontline & Experimental Flying With The Fleet Air Arm

Commander G. R. (Geoff) Higgs AFC RN

The spectacle of Alan Cobham's Flying Circus and the Fleet at anchor in Weymouth inspired the author's lifelong passion for aeroplanes, flying and the Royal Navy. World War Two provided the opportunity to fulfil his ambition and at eighteen he volunteered for the Fleet Air Arm as a pilot. Training in Canada began a Naval flying career that spanned thirty-years. Front line squadron service, embarked on aircraft carriers, was followed by qualification as a flying instructor. Selection for the Empire Test Pilots School at Farnborough and qualification as an experimental Test Pilot changed the direction of his naval career. In all Geoff Higgs flew nearly one hundred types of aircraft and carried out close to a thousand deck landings. Initial flight testing of a number of new naval aircraft, as well as research flying in support of the development of aircraft such as the English Electric Lightning and Concorde added to a unique career.

This book covers the author's flying career from the finish of World War 2 including his appointment as CO of the Naval Test Squadron at Boscombe Down replacing Mike Crosley (See book review below). In 1965 as CO of 'C' Squadron he also took 3 Buccaneer Mk 2 Aircraft to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, NAS Pensacola in Florida and the Carrier USS Lexington for Hot weather Trials.
 

Available from Amazon

 

Up in Harms Way

 

 

Commander R. M 'Mike' Crosley DSC & Bar RN

This book covers the author's flying career from the finish of World War 2 until his final appointment as CO of the Naval Test Squadron at Boscombe Down. Having had an outstanding wartime record 'Mike' Crosley became heavily involved with the introduction of Britain's first carrier-borne jet aircraft. The book explains how modern techniques, such as the angled flight deck, steam catapult and deck-landing mirror sights were developed and tested. At Boscombe Down he developed the 'hand's-off' launch technique for the Buccaneer which saved it from probable cancellation at a very difficult time for British naval aviation. There is ample technical detail in this book for those who wish to get deeper into the subject and he pulls no punches in his response to the cancellation of the CVA01 project in the 1960's

Available from Amazon

Mike Crosley crossed the bar in June 2010 - Link to details of his obituary

 

I SANK THE BISMARCK

 

 

Lieutenant Commander John Moffat RN

'Ranks among the very finest moments of Fleet Air Arm and Royal Navy history' Navy News 

May1941, the pilots of fifteen canvas-covered biplanes struggled to hold their Swordfish aircraft steady as they aimed towards the German battleship Bismarck. They flew low over a wind-wracked ocean, aiming their torpedoes, totally vulnerable in their open cockpits. If they failed now Bismarck would escape to safety.

 

Among these brave flyers was a young Sub-Lieutenant in the Fleet Air Arm, John Moffat. Only years later was John told that it was his torpedo that had prevented the Bismarck from outrunning her Royal Navy pursuers.

 

I Sank the Bismarck is a personal story of a carefree young boy, raised in the Borders, growing up to join a fledgling Fleet Air Arm. It's the story of a young pilot, living for the moment, facing war, and taking part in one of the most important battles at sea ever fought by Britain and the Royal Navy.  

 

Available from Amazon

 

TOO FEW TOO FAR

The untold story of how 22 Marines held off hundreds of Argentinians and disabled a warship on the eve of the Falklands War.

 

George Thomsen has written his story of how 22 Royal Marines, stranded on the frozen island of South Georgia faced a hostile Argentinian invasion force.

Naval Party 8901; Royal Marine George Thomsen is enjoying a drink at a farewell party after spending a 12 month tour of duty on the Falklands. But celebrations on 'going home' are cut short as he is hauled from the party to learn that his duties in the South Atlantic are very far from over. He is ordered to pick 8 men and to embark on the HMS Endurance the next morning, for the most dangerous mission of his career. 800 miles to the south East, scrap merchant Davidoff accompanied by Argentine troops masquerading as his employees, have raised the Argentine flag over the distant frozen island of South Georgia - British territory and the base of The British Antarctic Survey Team. Davidoff has held up one finger at The Empire and set the match to the touch paper that will escalate into all out war. Lightly armed and stranded by a departing HMS Endurance, the tiny besieged and outnumbered force make ready for a classic battle to protect the island and its scientists, against massive odds, from the air, land and sea.

Available from Pickabook

 

THE VIEW FROM A JUNGLY COCKPIT 1958 - 2008

Download Details

 

PHOENIX SQUADRON

HMS Ark Royal, Britain’s Last Top Guns and the Untold Story of Their Most Dramatic Mission 

‘Completely riveting … as gripping as any Tom Clancy thriller’ JEREMY CLARKSON 

‘If only all military history was written like this …’ ANDY MCNAB 

‘A remarkable story told with skill and dedication  … I enjoyed it.  And I learned a lot.’ LEN DEIGHTON

‘A gutsy, you-are-there true story that throbs with the sound and fury of carrier operations.  Military history as it ought to be told.’  ROBERT GANDT 

‘Clearly states the case for naval aviation in our uncertain age.  An aircraft carrier loaded with fighter bombers is still the big stick …’ STEPHEN COONTS 

HMS Ark Royal was the most powerful warship the Royal Navy had ever put to sea, her Air Group of Phantoms, Buccaneers, Gannets and Sea Kings a match for anything else in the sky.  But, by the end of January 1972, she was also the last of her kind, the sole remaining British aircraft carrier, kept in service to help face down the threat from the powerful Soviet Navy. 

Then intelligence reached Whitehall that British Honduras – now Belize – was under threat of imminent invasion from neighbouring Guatemala.  The little colony was all but defenceless in the face of battle-hardened, US-trained Guatemalan soldiers and airmen.  Until Ark Royal was ordered to ‘Proceed with all despatch’ …  

Drawing on many hours of interviews with the participants and previously unseen, classified documents in the UK and overseas, Phoenix Squadron pieces together this remarkable episode for the first time.  And in doing so brings to life a unique, unfamiliar and fascinating period in British military history. 

Phoenix Squadron was published in hardback by Bantam Press on 9th April 2009, priced £18.99 and is available from amazon.co.uk

 

Hardcover: 349 pages
Publisher: Bantam Press (9 April 2009)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0593054504
ISBN-13: 978-0593054505

 

Link to Amazon.co.uk

 
THE ROYAL NAVY AND THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Those who will have noted the anniversary of the Battle of Britain, celebrated in September 2010, will have also observed that the celebrations studiously avoided any mention of the many Fleet Air Arm pilots who took part (one of whom was Douglas Badar's wingman), or of the Naval squadrons allocated specifically to the battle and whose participation is recorded on the Battle of Britain Memorial on the Embankment, London. 

Just as overlooked were members of the air forces of many allied nations that took part in what has now been termed the Battle of Britain. 

Maritime Books at Liskeard have kindly forwarded the following book review, printed in their publication Warship World (Volume 12 Number 2 November/December 2010).

 

THE ROYAL NAVY AND THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN by Anthony J Cumming.

 

This important new book from the Naval Institute Press was a pleasure to review and thoroughly deserves to be widely read and debated.  

In it, Anthony Cumming clearly drives home the point that Fighter Command of the Royal Air Force did not prevent the Germans from invading Britain in the autumn of 1940, nor could it have done so alone. The myth that it did has continued to grow, however, to the point where the majority of the British population believe that the gallant 'Few' in their Spitfires were responsible for defeating an immediate and credible threat of German invasion with little help from the other armed forces or the wider civilian population. 

The truth is that, whatever the air situation, any serious attempt at invasion would have to cross the English Channel in requisitioned canal barges towed slowly by tugs. The Royal Navy, at the time the world's most powerful fleet dominated the Channel and would have annihilated the defenceless German vessels.  

German air power did not stop the British Fleet from evacuating troops from Norway, Dunkirk, Greece and Crete; it could not have prevented the Home Fleet from destroying the motley collection of invasion shipping at whatever cost to itself from air attack.  

This fact was recognised by the German War Staff who saw the probability of defeat at sea all too clearly. These self-evident facts lacked sufficient propaganda appeal for Prime Minister Churchill, however, as he sought to manipulate American public opinion with the colourful image of Fighter Command pitched alone against heavy odds rather than the 'silent victory' of the Navy which was so vastly superior to the few German warships that survived the Norwegian Campaign that the enemy would not even contemplate fighting it.  

Without denigrating the achievements of the fighter pilots, some of which were lent to the RAF by the Royal Navy, Cumming examines the Battle of Britain from a number of aspects, including the technical capabilities of the forces involved and the characters of RN and RAF Commanders.  

Unlike previous works on the subject he has researched extensively into the way in which the PR organisation portrayed the conflict at the time, selecting its facts in an attempt to get the USA to join the war on Britain's side. A gallant fight against superior numbers was more likely to win support from 'grass-roots' Americans than a factual portrayal of an enemy held in check by the powerful British Fleet.  

The author explains the interpretation of public opinion in the USA through early polls by Mr Gallup; a system with which we are all now very familiar.  

Cumming is a graduate of Plymouth University and, in 2006, he won the Julian Corbett Prize for Research in Modern Naval History. He has produced an excellent, scholarly and well-researched work that draws our attention away from the 'Few' to focus on the 'Many', including all the armed forces and the civilian population. This is a fascinating study, not only of the crisis in 1940 but of the way in which facts were presented by politicians to manipulate international opinion. It provides us with the best analysis yet written of the whole complex situation in the autumn of 1940 and the difficulty experienced in initiating joint operations. It places the air battles over Southern England in the wider context of a global war and British attempts to rally American support.

 

I recommend it most highly.

 

CCT. 

 

THE ROYAL NAVY AND THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN by Anthony J Cumming.
Naval Institute Press.

 

Reviewed by CCT for Warship World.
Recommended retail price £19.99

 

Joint Force Harrier

Days after arriving in Kandahar, the Harriers of 800 Naval Air Squadron were in the thick of fierce fighting. Armed with rockets and bombs, the pilots were flying crucial danger-close attack missions in defence of troops engaged in the most intense battles seen by British forces since the Korean War. While facing the constant threat of surface-to-air missiles, the British Top Guns knew that any mistake would have fatal consequences for the soldiers who depended on their skill and determination. Written by the Commanding Officer of the first Royal Navy squadron to deploy to Afghanistan, Joint Force Harrier is a compelling insight into the exciting world of modern air warfare.

 

 

 

Joint Force Harrier by Commander Ade Orchard, RN

Format: Hardback
Published: 04/09/2008
Publisher: PENGUIN BOOKS LTD
ISBN: 0718153995

 

Link to Amazon.co.uk

   

Rock Promoter Geoff Docherty

A Promoters Tale:

Rock at the Sharp End (Paperback)

by Geoff Docherty (Author)

 

Michael Wale records more episodes in the colourful life of one time Sunderland rock concert promoter Geoff Docherty.

Geoff Docherty spent six years in the Fleet Air Arm, before returning to civvy life in Sunderland where, because of his service training he always wore a suit and tie, and he retained his fitness, which was to lead him towards the job of rock promoter.

 

"I ended up in the forces. In fact, I was in all three forces at some time or another. Eventually I went into the Fleet Air Arm. I think I was looking for a lot of adventure. I was from a working class family in a working class town. I wanted more.

"I spent time on the Ark Royal," he says. I bought myself out after six and a half years. I was a qualified aircraft mechanic. I wanted to become a professional footballer, but that didn't happen. Although I did play for the Ark Royal football team against Western Australia. We lost.

Link to article in Journal Live

Format: Paperback
Published: 2002
Publisher: Omnibus Press
ISBN-10/-13:
071199434X / 9780711994348

 

Link to Amazon.co.uk