This new book features the memoirs of the late William Albert Tate who died in 2007 at the age
of 85. The first-hand account of an RAF aircrew has not previously been published and it adds
further personal insight that is valuable. Essential reading.
NAME: Surviving the Japanese Onslaught, an RAF PoW in Burma FILE: R2414 AUTHOR: William Tate PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword BINDING: hard back PAGES: 152 PRICE: £19.99 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: WWII, World War 1I, World War Two, Second World War, Pre-war RAF, Middle East, Far East, Burma, Wellington, bombing ISBN: 1-47388-073-4 IMAGE: B2414.jpg BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/gprhmq2 LINKS: Current Discount Offers http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/sale DESCRIPTION: This new book features the memoirs of the late William Albert Tate who died in 2007 at the age of 85. The first-hand account of an RAF aircrew has not previously been published and it adds further personal insight that is valuable. Essential reading. The author served in the RAF from 1938 to 1946 and these memoirs follow his service with special reference to his period as a Japanese PoW for two years, being held in Rangoon Gaol. The period as a PoW are a harrowing tale of deprivation and Japanese brutality. The service to either side is altogether happier and more positive. The text reads well and the author has a natural talent for painting pictures in words, enhanced by a very interesting photo-plate section. What makes the book particularly interesting is that it sets out a family background and service history that was typical of many other individuals serving during WWII after their parents had served in WWI. This therefore also acts as a testament to all those who never recorded and published their experiences, served with quiet distinction, and formed the backbone of a fighting force. As the service period shows, the author was not a wartime volunteer, or conscript, but an individual who chose a career in the RAF before war broke out. As such, his service started in an RAF in the throws of modernization and re-equipment. In 1938, the RAF was still largely a biplane air force with machines little advanced from those at the end of WWI. In the short space to the declaration of war in 1939, immense efforts were made to make up for the lost years of appeasement. On the outbreak of war, the RAF was still some way short of completing the process and fighter squadrons had to repaint their biplane fighters in camouflage while they waited for new monoplanes that were almost twice the speed, more than four times the fire power, and equipped with radio communications with each other and to the ground-based, radar-controlled, command and control system. Bomber Command, in which the author served, was in a curious position. The justification for combining two different, but highly efficient air forces, RNAS and RFC, into a single service was largely on the claims that air power could win wars without the need for ground forces. It took the RNAS work on building long range heavy biplane bombers and the RNAS attacks on ports and military targets in Germany as the basis of the claims. Sadly, the RAF commanders spent rather more time on politics, at which they became very skilled, and rather less on the critical work required to build the war-winning force they claimed to have inherited. It was not entirely their fault, because politicians took every opportunity to cut budgets and frustrate planning. The result was that the new monoplanes entering service were twin engine machines of modest range and limited bomb load, being procured in small quantities and incapable of mounting a sustained strategic bombing campaign. These aircraft were broadly similar to the German bombers, the difference being that Germany saw its bombers as army support aircraft, essentially flying artillery. They were similarly lightly armed with rifle calibre machine guns, but their bomb load was adequate for army support and bombing open towns in the terror bombing role. This was less of a problem for the Germans because they planned on having close fighter support with some of the best fighters then available. They triumphed until they were used to bomb London and other British cities in the strategic bombing role, when their fighters had insufficient range to provide continuing support, and where the RAF was able to direct much larger numbers of fighters than previous enemies, using the most advanced command and control system yet developed by any nation. Of all the bombers available in the early war years, the Wellington was the most successful. Although still only twin engine, it had much longer range, a greater bomb load with a wider choice of bomb types, and a much more effective defensive armament. Having a twin gun nose turret, twin gun upper turret and a four gun tail turret, augmented by two hand operated waist guns, the Wellington mounted an effective defence against individual fighters. The unique geodetic structure was able to absorb considerable damage, to return to base. Until the new four engine heavy bombers began to arrive in numbers, the Wellington was the mainstay of the bomber force. As the heavy bombers arrived, it continued to provide a valuable component of Bomber Command, but was increasingly used to update Coastal Command which was equipped with a few good flying boats but mainly with obsolete and obsolescent aircraft. The Wellington was also sent to the Middle East and Burma where Bomber Command was as poorly equipped as Coastal Command. The author was in one of those Wellington crews sent out to Burma to make a difference in a neglected theatre where the Japanese had been enjoying a happy period, faced only by inadequate numbers of very old Allied aircraft. Although the Wellington was huge improvement on the aircraft in use when it arrived, it was coming to the point in its service where fighter development had advanced, making it very important to escort Wellingtons on daylight raids. The Japanese had some effective fighters in service and a number of anti-aircraft gun batteries protecting key points. The author was unfortunate to be in a Wellington that was caught and shot down. Having successfully bailed out, he was taken prisoner and experienced the Japanese attitude to prisoners in their control. The reader will find a mix of emotions that match the different stages of the author's RAF career. Taken together, they paint a rare picture because there has been a shortage of first-hand accounts from people of similar rank and range of experience. We should be grateful that these memoirs survived and made it into print. It could so easily have been different, as for so many lost memoirs that died with their authors, often not shared even with immediate family.