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Just Another Trip

11 February 2016

Just Another Trip, Martin Whittle, 2015, ISBN 978-1-5049,43147, 374 pp.

Just Another Trip by Martin Whittle—AuthorHouse UK image

Just Another Trip by Martin Whittle—AuthorHouse UK image

Bomber Command, in the Royal Air Force during World War II, was hardly the service to join if survival was a consideration. The only service arm member which had a lower expectation, as well as the lowest overall, were those in the Kriegsmarine U-boats. Incredibly, both service arms were manned by volunteers and both never ran out of volunteers.

How does that happen and how does that feel?

Such is the bravery and sense of duty so often experienced during wartime. But what was it like to be there with these valiant warriors, back in the day? Whittle has written a novel which gives readers a true sense of the life, times, experiences and utter unknowing of it all by the crew of the Avro Lancaster known as M-Mother. This is a novel about a British bomber crew written by an Englishman so the language is charming as well as authentic and easily read. British aircraft were called out by the last letter of the letter group identifier for that aircraft and the British phonic for M is Mother (as opposed to our use of Mike). Hence, we read of the first person experience of the crew of M-Mother in their own use of English as well as mannerisms and sayings.

Readers also feel the Arctic temperatures as well as the hours of tension while in the bomber streams high over nocturnal Europe. Readers also learn how the Lancaster was flown by a single pilot (not the pair of pilots as in USAAF heavy bombers) and what his challenges were when caught in a spotlight, having to perform a crazily steep diving spiral while blinded, or nearly so, from the intensity of the probing beam which has found its mark–“coning” it.

But it could get worse. Worse when the searchlights were doused. That meant Luftwaffe night fighters were stalking their RAF prey and gunners became extra sharp. Whittle does not forget about the flak experiences either as spent shrapnel rattles against M-Mother’s fuselage or neighboring RAF bombers (invisible in the evening’s cloak) exploding without warning from a direct flak hit. Or was the bomber lost to an enemy fighter? How is the crew to know? Whittle brings each crew member to visceral life with each handling these events in their own way. Believable ways. The reader can sense these characters are not different from tried and true friends in real life.

Whittle has studied the subject. Our crew does not come out of the war unscathed. Nor did RAF bomber command crewmen leave the war the heroes they were, as Air Marshall Harris’s strategic bombing strategy actions came into serious question—as they should have on many accounts—at war’s end. The fact the public also took their anger out on the crewmen is tragic as they served faithfully and in the belief they were led well. They would be recognized as the heroes they indeed were, eventually.

Whittle–through his fictitious crew of M-Mother–takes us through the lives, loves, antics and history of RAF Bomber Command individuals thrown together by chance and the urge to be effective in defense of their country. Individuals who may have easily been neighbors or relatives of the book’s readers. Ordinary men who accomplished the extraordinary as so many thousands of real crewmen did. Whittle grasps what it means to be a human caught up in bigger than human events and his writing has his readers in the bomber stream, at the end of Luftwaffe cannon, in the pubs and elsewhere of more interest. In these ways Whittle explains how it must have felt to be in Bomber Command as well as how this exemplery service could have happened while enduring such gross losses.


AuthorHOUSE UK provided a copy of Just Another Trip for an objective review, per the publishing custom.


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