Former Avro Lancaster pilot Tony Bird has some remarkable tales to tell about his time with 61 Squadron RAF during the Battle of Berlin in World War II and in particular two occasions on which he miraculously cheated the Grim Reaper.
The first incident led to his being awarded an immediate DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross). You will have to read the book to find out why, but be assured its a great story!
Many more eventful sorties over Germany were to follow until exactly a year later in 1944 his wartime flying career but miraculously not his life abruptly ended when his Lancaster exploded in mid-air over Berlin, almost certainly a victim of schräge musik, the deadly upward-firing cannon mounted in Luftwaffe night fighters to take advantage of the ‘blind spot’ beneath the Lancaster.
After parachuting to the ground uninjured, Tony, the only survivor, was immediately taken prisoner and would spend the remainder of the war as a POW incarcerated at Stalag Luft III, alongside many fellow RAF aircrew, an ordeal of a different kind about which he also has some interesting recollections.
Delivered with quiet modesty and good humour, Tony's memoir makes for memorable reading that can be enjoyed by any armchair adventurer but will be of particular value to historians, researchers and students interested in the Second World War and the role of RAF Bomber Command.