Bombers Fly East, WWII RAF Operations in the Middle & Far East

The author has been building a solid and well-researched portfolio of WWII aviation histories and has followed his earlier European theatre histories with a history of bombing operations in the Middle and Far East. – Easy to read text is ably supported by two very interesting photo-plate sections and a map – Highly Recommended.

NAME: Bombers Fly East, WWII RAF Operations in the Middle & Far East
FILE: R2553
AUTHOR: Martin W Bowman
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back 
PAGES:  240
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War 2, World War II, Second World War., RAF, 
bombers, Middle East, Far East, Chinese Civil War, Yangtze Incident, 
HMS Amethyst, Sunderland, B-29, B-25, Blenheim, Gladiator, Maryland, 

ISBN: 1-47386-314-7

IMAGE: B2553.jpg
DESCRIPTION: The author has been building a solid and well-researched 
portfolio of WWII aviation histories and has followed his earlier 
European theatre histories with a history of bombing operations in 
the Middle and Far East.  - Easy to read text is ably supported by 
two very interesting photo-plate sections and a map  – Highly 

World War Two began with the RAF and FAA struggling to make up for 
the politicians' gross neglect of military capability between the 
wars. 1918 had seen the politicians wresting aviation from the Army 
and the Royal Navy to create a new service, the RAF. It was not a 
happy situation and was based on a theory that aviation could win 
future wars by strategic bombing. Strategic bombing had been 
pioneered by the RNAS and so the newly formed RAF inherited large 
long range aircraft produced to RNAS requirements. It created a 
number of anomalies. The RAF was not interested in operating RNAS 
airships or RN aircraft carriers but did want political control of 
aviation. The RN was allowed to continue operating airships for a 
brief period and was completely free to continue operating its 
existing carriers and developing its carrier capability. RN officers 
were also to be trained as pilots and observers as part of the RAF 
provision of military aviation. The RN then waged a continuing 
political war, first by funding shipboard aviation and then by 
insisting on increasing numbers of RN officers being trained as 
pilots and observer/navigators. Then, in 1938, the RN once more 
regained control of shipboard naval aviation and land-based support 
aircraft, although the RAF doggedly retained control of Coastal 
Command to provide maritime patrol and attack capabilities with 
flying boats and land-based aircraft. The RAF continued to maintain 
that it could provide air cover for all RN vessels, a claim still 
advanced to this day

There were serious consequences of this botched restructuring of 
British military aviation. It meant that insufficient thought and 
planning went into developing aircraft to deploy to RN ships. It 
meant that the Royal Navy received far too little access to aviation 
for exercises, leading to a general under-appreciation of the threat 
that modern aircraft posed to ships and also to a failure by the RAF 
to develop tactics for maritime patrol and attack. This was to cost 
many lives in the battle against German maritime aircraft and 
submarines as the RAF and RN slowly developed their relationship in 
wartime. It cost the RN many ships, particularly in the Middle and 
Far East where aviation assets were a lower priority than for Europe.

The serious deficiencies were not simply a matter of inter-Service 
rivalries. The RAF also failed to equip itself adequately for either 
its primary task of strategic bombing, or its ability to provide home 
defence. As for its provision of support for the Army in the field, 
it was almost completely unprepared, leading to a situation similar 
to the RAF/RN working relationship, where inadequate aviation 
provision in exercises meant that the Army failed to equip and train 
for lightning war where armour, mechanized infantry and ground 
attack aircraft worked closely together to provide a comprehensive 
all-arms capability. This initially gave the Germans a significant 
land forces advantage, as was demonstrated by the ease of their 
conquest of Poland and then in the Low Countries and France.

It was against this background that war in the Middle and Far East 
was guaranteed totally inadequate resources. Churchill had very few 
options open to him. In 1940, he could only put every available asset 
into preventing an invasion of the British Isles and a German 
victory in Europe. Britain and the Commonwealth stood virtually 
alone, aided only by those remnants of the conquered nations that had
managed to escape to Britain, or to the British forces in the Middle 
East. Even in home defence there were so many deficiencies that had to 
be addressed by mobilizing the entire adult population and undertaking 
a massive production effort to turn out aircraft to equip home 
squadrons, and then replace losses in the Battle of Britain. It was a 
truly magnificent effort by the whole country and the Commonwealth 
but it was still a high mountain to climb.

That the British were able to send anything to the Mediterranean and 
the Middle East was amazing. That narrow resource was further 
stretched as Churchill was forced politically to send troops and 
aircraft into Greece and Crete, and then to hazard scarce naval 
resources trying to evacuate those assets. Inevitably it resulted in 
British Forces being forced back toward Cairo with a very real 
prospect that not only would British resistance be crushed, but that 
Japan and Germany could join up directly.

German expansion was finally halted at Stalingrad and El Alamein. 
From there, the Allies could begin to roll back the Germans and the 
Japanese, but the war was not to end until May 1945 in Europe and 
then in the Far East with the nuclear attacks on Japan. China had 
been under partial Japanese occupation  and armed attack since before 
the start of WWII. Resistance was provided both by the Chinese forces, 
and a growing Communist army. As the US had failed to understand the 
potential threat the Soviet Union and Communism would present after 
1945, the world really moved from Hot War to Cold War. The author 
has captured this process as it related to the Middle and Far East 
from turning of the tide against the Axis through to the daring 
escape of HMS Amethyst from the Chinese Communists in 1949.

With the bombing campaign in Europe, and the preparations being made 
for the invasion of Italy and France, the Allies were beginning to 
enjoy a sufficiency of military resources and even some surpluses. 
The RAF was receiving large numbers of Lancaster and Halifax bombers 
to operate in consort with the growing force of USAAF bombers. 
Fighter numbers were continuing to increase and newer Spitfire models 
and new types were entering service. That would permit the movement 
of older aircraft types to the Middle East and then to the Far East. 
The Hurricane was becoming obsolescent in the European theatre but 
was still a very capable aircraft and displaying a capability to 
provide ground attack effectively. Armed with large canon it was a 
credible tank killer and with bombs it would fill a niche in the 
bombing capabilities. Blenheim and Wellington bombers were becoming 
surplus to European requirements but were still capable machines that 
could be spared for the Middle and Far East. In addition, the RAF and 
Commonwealth air forces were receiving bombers and fighters from the 
US, with the B-24 Liberator proving a valuable aircraft in the Middle 
and Far East.

The author has lifted the lid on what was in many respects a 
forgotten war that never received the attention it deserved. He has 
also covered the courageous attempts the RAF, SAAF, and RAAF crews 
who tried to provide supplies and support to the Polish patriots 
during the Warsaw Uprising.  The attempts were to prove futile but 
the long haul from the Mediterranean airfields, using Liberator 
crews, were the best chance available, much like bombing raids on 
Romanian oil fields that were beyond the reach of bombers flying 
out of Britain.