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The Berlin Blitz By Those Who Were There (Hardback)

Aviation > Royal Air Force Aviation > WWII WWII > Battles & Campaigns > Berlin 1945

By Martin W Bowman
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 288
Illustrations: 60 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526705525
Published: 3rd February 2023


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The Allied bombing of Berlin was the longest and most sustained bombing offensive against one target in the Second World War. The Berlin Blitz By Those Who Were There is a compelling, gripping and thought-provoking story of the Allied bombing forces and the ordinary people on the ground, told in their own tongue and with meticulous attention to detail. The result is a coherent, single story which unfolds in a straightforward and incisive narrative.

This work draws attention in some detail to the major raids on the Reich capital by RAF Bomber Command from the late summer of 1940 to September 1943. It begins with the reliable but largely ineffective twin-engined Blenheims, Hampdens, Wellingtons and Whitleys, through to the introduction into front-line service of the four-engined ‘heavies’ - the Stirling, Manchester and Halifax, which bore the brunt of the bomber offensive until the advent of the incomparable Avro Lancaster in 1942 and the superlative Mosquito. On 30 January 1943, on the tenth anniversary of Hitler’s usurpation of power, two formations (each of three Mosquitoes) appeared over Berlin in daylight and interrupted large rallies being addressed by Goering and Goebbels.

Sir Arthur Harris, Commander-in-Chief, RAF Bomber Command, hoped to ‘wreck Berlin from end to end’ and ‘produce a state of devastation in which German surrender is inevitable’. But the ‘Big City’, as it was known to his faithful ‘old lags’, was never completely destroyed.

"I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Bomber Command, it had me on the edge of my seat at times & I found it hard to put down."

Read the full review here

Allied Air Force Research Website

Draws attention in detail to the major raids on the Reich capital by RAF Bomber Command from the late summer of 1940 to September 1943.

Read full review here


Review as featured in

The Armourer

A thoroughly good read involving the Berlin Biltz, and one that certainly deserves recommendation.

Read the Full Review Here

The History Fella

This book is almost exclusively personal accounts by Bomber Command aircrew of their experiences of the air assault on Berlin, broadly from September 1941 to September 1943, interspersed with accounts by German aircrew, flak gunners, and civilians. There are some technical details, but the emphasis is on the human drama: from memory, over half of Bomber aircrew did not survive the war, and Berlin was a well-defended target.

Some wartime diary accounts can be glib or ‘understated’ to make an impact, but the stories told here are measured, reflective and honest. It is an immensely sad story, on both sides: the sheer scale of destruction visited on the city, and the constant reference to aircraft lost and young men killed. Picture all the 20-yr-olds in your workplace, and imagine 50% of them dying in the next few years….

I am not very knowledgeable on air warfare, but this is without a doubt the finest and most moving set of personal accounts that I have ever read on this subject. Very highly recommended.

Miniature Wargames

I believed this book’s title indicated an account of life in Berlin during the allied bombing of Berlin in WWII. Having served in Berlin in the early 1960s I saw much of the bomb damage and the results which could then still be seen across the city, along with the growing man-made mountain of rubble to the south of the city and I was therefore curious to see how ‘those who were there’ coped under allied bombing . Instead, this book hardly touches on this aspect of the war but it is nevertheless a thoroughly research project into a major aspect of allied bombing of Berlin during WWII until September 1943.

Like the author’s earlier work on the same subject, The Battle of Berlin, this book is an excellent chronology of the bombing campaign and clearly details the units and airman involved with illuminating personal insights from pilots and civilians involved, and including experiences of the ‘other side’. Some 9,000 allied bombing sorties were carried out during this period with the British dropping some 45,000 tons of bombs on the city in support of American raids which dropped a further 23,000 tons. For Berliners, the most commonly heard question was ‘Will they come tonight’? By the war’s end some 1.7 million people, mainly women and children, a quarter of Berlin’s population, had fled Berlin, to avoid the incessant bombing – and then at the war’s end fleeing to the West to distance themselves from the approaching Russian army.

This book is both informative and gripping. I found it difficult to put down as each chapter draws you compellingly to the next.

Highly commended.

Dr Adrian Greaves - The Anglo-Zulu War Historical Society

About Martin W Bowman

With well over 100 published books, MARTIN W. BOWMAN is one of Britain’s best-known aviation historians and authors. Specialising in Second World War history and post-war aviation, Martin’s interest in these subjects was driven by the prolific number of RAF and USAAF air bases that were established in his native East Anglia. His previous books have included works such as Legend of the LancasterConfounding the ReichDuxford and the Big Wings, as well as numerous titles in the exhaustive Air War series, which, between them, provide extensive coverage of operations carried out on D-Day and during the Market Garden offensive at Arnhem.

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