WORLD WAR TWO
Of all Allied Forces in World War Two an assignment with the most peril for young men from Britain, the USA, or Canada was to a squadron in the British attack force, RAF Bomber Command. Casualty rates were 45%. It was a dangerous place to be for a young man committed to fighting against the tyranny that cast darkness and death over Europe. Fifty-five thousand flyers were lost.
Nearly seventy years later in a new century as adults and school children stand before cold cenotaphs to honour the sacrifice of these youth in blue; what do we really know of their personal journeys and their families’ trials in fighting for our present day freedoms.
In this book-a gritty memorial drama-the reader follows the deadly flight paths of three Halifax and Lancaster bomber pilots. Charles “Chuck” Lesesne, the second son of a widowed mother is from Charleston, South Carolina, USA. He is a graduate from the historic southern cadet college, The Citadel. Peter “Pete” Manning from St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England is an ‘old boy’ from the Cranleigh School at Surrey; William “Bill” Weiker from Kitchener, Ontario is the older of two sons. His younger brother, Carl is a RCAF navigator in Bomber Command. From rural southern Ontario, Perth County the reader follows the experiences of two mid-upper gunners flying in the RCAF 405 Pathfinder Squadron. They are Gordon Campbell McKay and Ross Bell Nairn, farmers from outside St.Marys, Ontario.
One will marvel at their bravery: at their long trips into the hell of sub zero night skies over Europe. There they face German night fighters, batteries of cannons, motor failures in their own aircraft and mid air collisions. The odds are poor that flight crews will survive.
James R. Stevens lives on the shore of Lake Superior in Shuniah, Ontario, Canada. He enjoys writing non-fiction books that have enduring value. Some of his work has been in print for over forty years.
DEAD MEN FLYING
We are nearly a lifetime away from the closure of World War Two in 1945. For young citizens of today that stand in silence at memorials and cenotaphs to honour those who gave their lives for their freedoms, what do most actually know of the heroism, the perseverance and the terror endured by their forbearers? Of all the young men who decided they would like to fly in aircraft the worst posting for personal survival were the night flying attack Squadrons in England’s Bomber Command. This book is a memorial drama of only a few of the thousands who were lost to their friends, mothers and families as they carried out their airborne duties in attempting to subdue the vicious force of an expanding criminal state in Europe. Caught in this war storm were pilots, Peter Manning RAF DFC from St. Albans, Hertfordshire, UK; Charles P. ‘Chuck’ Lesesne RCAF from Sumter, North Carolina, USA; William ‘Bill’ Weiker, RCAF DFC/Bar from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, and mid upper gunners, F/Sgt’s Gordon McKay and Ross Bell Nairn, both farm boys from Perth County, Ontario, Canada along with a host of other brave airmen. A total of 55,000 of them were killed in flaming wrecks, crashes in mountains and seas. Many of the valiant have no known graves.
Written from letters home to worried parents, flyers log books, war diaries and official Air Force records these stories of the lost are intimate and personal. Flyers in Wellington, Halifax and Lancaster bombers had to deal with cold fear on each operational flight. They had to believe in luck as they carried out their perilous jobs in skies filled with deadly shrapnel, mid-air collisions, mechanical failures and attacks by crafty German night fighters. What Bomber Command flyers endured is apparent in this book. What their families suffered in reading sparse telegrams and letters from crew mates gives one a deep appreciation when honoring those who fought to maintain freedom in contemporary societies.