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New Zealanders with the Royal Air Force (Vol. II)


page vii


This volume, the second of three recording the services of New Zealand airmen who flew and fought with the Royal Air Force, completes the history of the European theatre of operations. It covers those later years during which the battle for air supremacy was finally won and in which Allied air power was able to play such an important part in the victories on land and at sea. It is, therefore, largely a story of achievement and success, but one hopes the reader will note what the mounting air offensive cost in young lives, especially in Bomber Command, and then ponder the words of Sir Arthur Harris which are recorded at the end of Chapter 14.

As in the first volume, the activities of both the Dominion squadrons and airmen are recorded against a background of the air war; for without this background the narrative would lack perspective and appear rather as a series of unrelated, and at times repetitive, episodes. It has been far from easy to hold the balance. Moreover, the scale of air operations was so vast and the number of men involved so large that selection and summary have been inevitable. One would like to have included many more names and exploits and also to have discussed certain aspects of the air war more fully. But while this is an official record in which detail may rightly be expected, one felt it should also be made as readable and interesting as possible by including some impression at least of the life and work of all those whose battlefield was the ‘blue dome of the sky’.

The documents and other sources of information on which the history is based have already been described in the Introduction to Volume I. I wish again, however, to record my appreciation of the very great help received from many officers of Air Ministry, London, and especially from Mr J. C. Nerney and his staff of the Historical Branch. My thanks are also due to Flight Lieutenants B. G. Clare and N. W. Faircloth for their research on Bomber and Fighter Commands, and to Sergeant S. W. R. Holmes for his valuable assistance in many directions, including preparation of the biographical notes. I should like to add a particular word of thanks to the many men who have answered our requests for information and also to those who have read and commented upon the text.

H. L. Thompson

August 1954

page viii

Page 196, line 3, for They read White. Rae only was taken prisoner.