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The Squadron That Died Twice: The story of No. 82 Squadron RAF, which in 1940 lost 23 out of 24 aircraft in two bombing raids

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Apart from the quiet chatter of a few mechanics, who were checking that one aircraft was too badly damaged ever to fly again, there was a shocked silence over the aerodrome as everyone there tried to understand the impossible. Twelve twin-engined bombers of 82 Squadron RAF had set out on a fine May morning in 1940, from Watton, Norfolk, in a brave but hopeless attempt to s Apart from the quiet chatter of a few mechanics, who were checking that one aircraft was too badly damaged ever to fly again, there was a shocked silence over the aerodrome as everyone there tried to understand the impossible. Twelve twin-engined bombers of 82 Squadron RAF had set out on a fine May morning in 1940, from Watton, Norfolk, in a brave but hopeless attempt to slow down the German armour ripping through Belgium. Sergeant Thomas 'Jock' Morrison was the pilot of the only one to come home. Heavy losses in Bomber Command in the Second World War were common, normal, came with the territory, but this? Eleven out of twelve were shot down, by flak and fighters, and lay in burning fragments along the Belgium/France border. It is said that history repeats itself. And so it was, almost exactly three months later, on a cloudy day in August 1940, that twelve more twin-engined Bristol Blenheim bombers, each with a crew of three men, set off from Watton, Norfolk, in a brave but hopeless attempt to destroy a Luftwaffe base in enemy-occupied Denmark. One aircraft had to turn for home before it reached the target.The other eleven pressed on as the clouds disappeared and, on a fine sunny morning, were all shot down, by flak and fighters, and lay in burning fragments on the shores of the Lymfjord. At the time, when the whole world was trying to understand the impossible, how Germany could conquer Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium and France in a few weeks, and Poland before that - and surely Great Britain next? - 82 Squadron's disasters were barely noticed. Based on the accounts of survivors and on squadron and other records, Gordon Thorburn's moving retelling of the story, of the events of it and the men in it, at last puts right that terrible omission.


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Apart from the quiet chatter of a few mechanics, who were checking that one aircraft was too badly damaged ever to fly again, there was a shocked silence over the aerodrome as everyone there tried to understand the impossible. Twelve twin-engined bombers of 82 Squadron RAF had set out on a fine May morning in 1940, from Watton, Norfolk, in a brave but hopeless attempt to s Apart from the quiet chatter of a few mechanics, who were checking that one aircraft was too badly damaged ever to fly again, there was a shocked silence over the aerodrome as everyone there tried to understand the impossible. Twelve twin-engined bombers of 82 Squadron RAF had set out on a fine May morning in 1940, from Watton, Norfolk, in a brave but hopeless attempt to slow down the German armour ripping through Belgium. Sergeant Thomas 'Jock' Morrison was the pilot of the only one to come home. Heavy losses in Bomber Command in the Second World War were common, normal, came with the territory, but this? Eleven out of twelve were shot down, by flak and fighters, and lay in burning fragments along the Belgium/France border. It is said that history repeats itself. And so it was, almost exactly three months later, on a cloudy day in August 1940, that twelve more twin-engined Bristol Blenheim bombers, each with a crew of three men, set off from Watton, Norfolk, in a brave but hopeless attempt to destroy a Luftwaffe base in enemy-occupied Denmark. One aircraft had to turn for home before it reached the target.The other eleven pressed on as the clouds disappeared and, on a fine sunny morning, were all shot down, by flak and fighters, and lay in burning fragments on the shores of the Lymfjord. At the time, when the whole world was trying to understand the impossible, how Germany could conquer Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium and France in a few weeks, and Poland before that - and surely Great Britain next? - 82 Squadron's disasters were barely noticed. Based on the accounts of survivors and on squadron and other records, Gordon Thorburn's moving retelling of the story, of the events of it and the men in it, at last puts right that terrible omission.

20 review for The Squadron That Died Twice: The story of No. 82 Squadron RAF, which in 1940 lost 23 out of 24 aircraft in two bombing raids

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jonny

    A breezy, chatty account of the double destruction of 82 Squadron in the summer of 1940, first against the German drive through the Low Countries in May and then against the Eagle Day build-up on the Danish airfield at Aalborg. The history of the squadron and their somewhat unfortunate mounts are covered, as is a forensic loss-by-loss account of the two raids, and a "what happened to the survivors" chapter following the adventures of the survivors of the Aalborg raid. A nice little addition to t A breezy, chatty account of the double destruction of 82 Squadron in the summer of 1940, first against the German drive through the Low Countries in May and then against the Eagle Day build-up on the Danish airfield at Aalborg. The history of the squadron and their somewhat unfortunate mounts are covered, as is a forensic loss-by-loss account of the two raids, and a "what happened to the survivors" chapter following the adventures of the survivors of the Aalborg raid. A nice little addition to the Bomber Command library and an interesting little side story to the start of the Battle of Britain.

  2. 5 out of 5

    JD

    This is a very interesting look at 82 Squadron RAF and it's destruction twice during the summer air battles of 1940 over the Low Countries and Denmark. It follows the young men of the squadron from peace-time flying into the horrors of World War 2 aerial warfare. It also takes a quick look at the RAF's early war bombers and the bombing strategy for how they were used and can see quickly how these brave men were led to the slaughter by outdated thinking of those in charge. It covers all the squad This is a very interesting look at 82 Squadron RAF and it's destruction twice during the summer air battles of 1940 over the Low Countries and Denmark. It follows the young men of the squadron from peace-time flying into the horrors of World War 2 aerial warfare. It also takes a quick look at the RAF's early war bombers and the bombing strategy for how they were used and can see quickly how these brave men were led to the slaughter by outdated thinking of those in charge. It covers all the squadrons' early engagements and has a minute-by-minute detailed chapters on both the battle where both time 11 out of 12 bombers were lost to enemy action. Also included is a nice afterword of the subsequent careers of the survivors of both raids. The book is fast paced and the authors writing style is engaging, which I enjoyed.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Harries

  4. 4 out of 5

    Simon

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sleeping with Ghosts

  6. 5 out of 5

    Doug Phillips

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael Buss

  9. 4 out of 5

    Beiza

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  11. 4 out of 5

    Fabio

  12. 5 out of 5

    loisa beiza

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Olie

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mel

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hamish Davidson

  17. 4 out of 5

    Timothy C Elworthy

  18. 5 out of 5

    Zachary

  19. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  20. 5 out of 5

    THOMAS RYASKO

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