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Enemy Coast Ahead (Paperback)

The Illustrated Memoir of Dambuster Guy Gibson

Aviation > Dambusters Aviation > Royal Air Force Aviation > WWII Military > Greenhill Books > Greenhill: WWII WWII

By Guy Gibson, Edited by Dr Robert Owen, Foreword by James Holland
Greenhill Books
Pages: 528
ISBN: 9781784384906
Published: 19th September 2019
Last Released: 20th September 2023



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Prior to World War Two, Wing Commander Guy Gibson joined the Royal Air Force. In 1944, he wrote down his experience of serving in the RAF.

Aged just 25, Gibson had completed two full tours, each of 30 operations, with Bomber Command, and had led the now-famous Dam Busters raid against the dams of the Ruhr Valley in May 1943. He died aged 26 in 1944, when his Mosquito crashed near Steenbergen in the Netherlands.

Gibson’s story is an incredible one. He struggled daily to work the Handley Page Hampden, and then the Avro Manchester, flying both into enemy airspace with great difficulty. He goes into detail on this, describing the troubles facing him, and how he managed to overcome them.

He also addresses the rapid professionalisation of the Bomber Command. At the start of the war, they seemed ill-equipped and unprepared to confront Germany, but they grew in confidence and stature, to represent one of the defining units of the Second World War. Gibson recounts this change.

As a kid, the Dam Busters film was one of my favourites. Therefore, I am saddened to say that I had never read Guy Gibson’s memoirs. Well… I have now and it is everything I had hoped it would be when I first picked it up.

An enthralling, moving story with, in places, a touch of wartime humour which is to be expected from someone so young thrown into war and the horrors it thrusts on people living in it.

Now I am more aware of Guy Gibson the human and have a better understanding of who he was, before and after that one mission he is best known for.

Highly recommended.

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Vintage Airfix

This is a fascinating account of one of the war's most daring missions written by the man most responsible for its success...the notes that accompany this edition add tremendously to understanding Gibson and the Dambusters.

Air Power History, Winter 2020

As featured by

The Armourer, March 2020

James Holland’s foreword adds some early life and post dams depth as well as being the author of the 2013 book Dam Busters. There are comprehensive and well written notes at the end of the book which adds much needed depth along with two sets of black and white photographs. As a modern touch there is a centre set of glossy paper photographs, some of which are colourised versions of the monochromes... a good eyewitness book.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

Gibson’s still remarkably readable classic.

The Aviation Historian, issue 30

There aren't many books that should be on every military aviation fan's reading list, but Guy Gibson's Enemy Coast Ahead is one of them.

Airfix Model World, February 2020

Listed in the 'In View' feature

Military History Matters, January 2020

This is one of the most important memoirs of WWII. Guy Gibson will always be remembered for leading the daring raid on the German Ruhr dams with a unique special bomb, but his illustrated memoirs cover so much more and provide a very important view into the life of pilots and commanders of RAF Bomber Command. – Most Highly Recommended.

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I happen to think he was quite extraordinary from within the utterly extraordinary mass of men who flew in Bomber Command... Celebrate him and his excellent book.

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War History Online, Mark Barnes

I enjoyed this book, as it gives an insight into a man who was not super human, but just a man in an unimaginable time of war and uncertainty. Written by the man himself this is a no nonsense memoir that gives a glimpse of men who did their duty, under the command of a man who was driven to do his best to ‘get the job done’. A good addition to any book collection and one that can be read on the train or beach due to its size..

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This is an important piece of world war 2 writing from one of bomber commands leading pilots.
It is written of the time so do expect alot of patriotism to come through and obvious censorship but don't be put off by that, it is an important piece of writing that will appeal to all who want to get inside the minds of these brave men.

Amazon Customer, Richard Domoney-Saunders

I first read Enemy Coast Ahead when I was a teenager, having just seen the film The Dambusters, and finding the whole character and story of Guy Gibson one of the most compelling and amazing stories of the second world war. Pen and Sword's revised, updated and beautiful new edition of Gibson's own story in his own words is guaranteed to move its readers just as I was moved and inspired back in the late 1950s.

Books Monthly

Highly recommended.

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About Guy Gibson

Born in India in 1918, Guy Gibson grew up in India, Cornwall, Kent and Oxford. An average student, Gibson always had a passion for flying, and commenced flying training in November 1936 at the Bristol Flying School. In early 1937, he began RAF basic training at RAF Uxbridge, and was awarded his pilot’s wings in May 1937. During the war, Gibson was part of three operational tours, with Bomber Command and Fighter Command, playing an important part in the decisive Battle of Britain. He gained notoriety for the Dam Busters raid where he led his squadron. He was awarded the VC and in June 1943 became the most highly decorated serviceman in the country. James Holland is a historian and broadcaster. The author of the best-selling Fortress MaltaBattle of Britain, and Dam Busters, he has written 9 works of historical fiction. He regularly appears on television and radio and has written and presented the BAFTA-shortlisted BBC documentaries, Battle of Britain and Dam Busters.

About Dr Robert Owen

Dr Robert Owen is the Official Historian of the No. 617 Squadron Association. A Trustee of both this Association and the Barnes Wallis Memorial Trust, he has contributed to numerous publications and documentaries. He is the author of Henry Maudslay Dam Buster and lead author on Dam Busters Failed to Return.

Born on this day - Guy Gibson

12th August 1918

Guy Gibson was the commanding officer for the Royal Air Force's No. 617 Squadron and led Operation Chastise - the 'Dambusters' raid over the Ruhr dams in May 1943. Gibson was later awarded the Victoria Cross, becoming at the time the most highly decorated British serviceman. Gibson continued to fly and was killed in action while on another raid over Germany, his plane crashing in the Netherlands in 1944.

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