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Caribbean Volunteers at War (Hardback)

The Forgotten Story of the RAF's 'Tuskegee Airmen'

WWII Aviation World War Two Aviation

By Mark Johnson
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 194
ISBN: 9781783462919
Published: 10th March 2014

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All of a sudden there was the rush of an immense shadow coming towards him at terrific speed. It was the ground reaching up to gather him. The date was 26 June, 1943 and Cy Grant was the rarest of things - a black West Indian RAF crew member, blown out of his exploding Lancaster bomber.

The heroic exploits of the Caribbean men and women who volunteered their services to the Allied effort during the Second World War have, until now, passed by with little fanfare or attention. Indeed, whilst many people are aware of the contribution that the various Bomber Command units paid in securing ultimate victory, little is said or understood of the achievements and sacrifices of the heroic Caribbean volunteers who contributed to some of their greatest victories.

Mark Johnson presents us here with an engrossing and humane account of the exploits of such individuals. Including a great number of insights and fascinating details taken from conversations with his great-uncle, John Blair, the book illuminates the day-to-day reality of life as a Caribbean volunteer during the Second World War and the kind of culture-clash experiences that characterised their wartime careers. John Blair is a particularly important member within the context of this history and within the wider context of Bomber Command history. He served a full and distinguished tour with Bomber Command in the skies over Germany and was present during some of the most pivotal moments, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross in the process. The author has based the book on in-depth interviews he conducted with his great-uncle and other survivors, as well as other press interviews and personal accounts by a host of other Caribbean volunteers to create a dramatic and well written account of the proceedings. An important book, offering a platform upon which to appreciate the true extent of the Caribbean contribution to the Allied war effort, the work offers a new slant on the popular Bomber Command theme; one that looks set to intrigue a number of readers yet to be acquainted with this facet of the unit's history.

As featured in Discover Your History magazine.

I enjoyed reading this book. I also attended a talk given by the author at TNA on his book. In his talk and this book he showed his enthusiasm for his subject.
The overall quality of the book is very good with good clear photographs. There is an appendix with the list of the names of those who served in various squadrons. There is also a helpful list of sources and an effective index. There are no inconsistencies or typographical errors. If someone is interested in looking further into the history of the RAF bombing campaign against Germany I fully recommend this book.

Friends of the National Archives

This is a useful study of a neglected group of RAF airmen, and a useful addition to the literature on Bomber Command.

www.historyofwar.org

An interesting book, full of information...

Black & Asian Studies Association

We have here an entertaining and rewarding book that advances the story of the men who left Britain’s colonies in the Caribbean to serve in the Royal Air Force during World War Two. This is one of those neglected facets of history which often places the men as one dimensional footnotes in bigger stories and it is high time we had more books like this one plugging the knowledge gap and setting a few things straight.

War History Online
 Mark Johnson

About Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a former military officer, drug enforcement agent and corporate security director. Born in England, with a Jamaican father and a British mother of European descent, Mark's longstanding passion for history, which is accentuated by his family's close connection with the Second World War, has led him on a quest for answers to some of the lesser known facets of the conflict. Caribbean Volunteers at War is his first historical work. You can find out more about this project by viewing a selection of photographs published online at his website: www.markjohnsonbooks.com.

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