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6 Group Bomber Command (Hardback)

An Operational Record

Aviation World War Two Aviation

By Chris Ward
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 272
ISBN: 9781848841550
Published: 8th February 2010

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6 Group was born out of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), which, among other things called for the formation of 25 Canadian Squadrons in Britain. This figure was later downsized. The Canadian vision was of a Canadian force operating independently alongside Bomber Command in the manner of the American 8th, but skilful negotiating by the British resulted in Canadian Bomber squadrons operating within the RAF under RAF control but funded by Canada. On the 1st of January 1943 most of the existing RCAF squadrons were brought together on stations in North Yorkshire and County Durham to form 6 Group. By the end of the war 14 Squadrons were operational and one other had been posted to the Pathfinders. After an uncertain beginning the Group became an efficient and valuable contributor to Bomber Command's campaigns. Beginning predominantly with Wellingtons the Group was re-equipped with a mixture of Halifaxes and Lancasters, including the Hercules powered MkII and the Canadian built MKX.

Author Ward, a Bomber Command historian, offers a reference work on the 6 Group of Britain's Bomber Command during World War II. The book is not intended to be read as a comprehensive history of 6 Group, but as a source of non-anecdotal information of its activities during the war. The author also addresses the uncertain beginnings of the group and its later status as an effective contributor to Bomber Command campaigns. A small number of photographs are included.

Book News

About Chris Ward

Chris Ward has been writing about RAF Bomber Command in WW11 since the mid nineties. He began with his highly successful Bomber Command Squadron Profile series of spiral-bound publications. It was during this period that Andreas Wachtel contacted Chris for information for a book he was writing, and the two became the closest of friends, to the extent that they regard each other as family. When Chris began working on his first major work, Dambusters, The Definitive History, which was published by Red Kite in 2003, Andreas took on the initial research in Germany and Holland. In this way Chris and Andreas made available to others the Dams raid crash sites of Maudslay and Barlow, which had never previously been identified, and they also publicised the scene of Astell’s crash, which is maintained by a local historian. Through this research Chris was able to correct long-held misconceptions about the circumstances of the crashes.

Chris was the first to research in depth the events of the Dortmund-Ems Canal disaster, which took place four months after the dams. He and Andreas discovered the crash sites of Holden, Allsebrook, Wilson and Divall, which had never previously been identified, let alone documented and surveyed. In 2013 a number of historians in the German town of Nordhorn released a book about the air war as experienced by the local community of Bentheim on Germany’s border with Holland. The inspiration for this book, which is a massive tome involving hundreds of hours of work, was Chris’s account of Holden’s crash on the farm of the Hood family, which resulted not only in the deaths of the eight-man Lancaster crew, including four members of Guy Gibson’s Dams crew, but also Frau Hood. 70 years to the day after this tragedy, on Sunday 15th September 2013, Chris and Andreas were guests of honour at a civic reception in Nordhorn to release the book. There was also a ceremony at the crash site beside the Hood farmyard, attended by the whole local Hood family, local dignitaries, the authors of the book and many interested spectators.

Another Chris Ward first was his enquiry into the events on the German side during the final attack by 617 and 9 Squadrons on the Tirpitz in a Norwegian fjord in November 1944. Kurt Schulze, who was a pilot on the nearby fighter airfield at Bardufoss at the time, sent Chris a copy of the transcripts of the German Courts Martial, which took place six weeks after the loss of Tirpitz to apportion blame. Chris translated them, and devoted an entire chapter in his original book and the P&S update to the reasons behind the German failure to intercept the approaching Lancaster force.

Chris has since worked on a series of books for P&S detailing the histories of the bomber groups. Those on 3, 4, 5 and 6 Groups have just been joined by his latest, 1 Group. He is currently working on an updated series of Bomber Command Squadron Profiles, which P&S have undertaken to publish in hardback.

Perfect Partner

3 Group Bomber Command An Operational Record (Hardback)

During the immediate period before World War Two, the RAF modified its command structure to rationalise for rapid expansion. Bomber Command was divided into six operational groups, each flying the same type of aircraft. 3 Group had almost completely re-equipped with the Wellington by 4 September 1939 to carry out the second bombing operation of the war which was against German warships off Brunsbüttel. In 1940 the first of the new four-engined bombers, the Short Stirling, came into service with the Group, being followed in 1942 by the Avro Lancaster. On 3rd/4th November 1943, No. 3 Group played…

By Chris Ward

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