|About the Book|
Until the Night is a novel of the Bombing War.When in September 1943 Adam Chantrey, a 25-year old veteran of the bombing war is sent to Ansham Wolds to rebuild a shattered Lancaster squadron, Bomber Commands greatest battle is only weeks away.MoreUntil the Night is a novel of the Bombing War.When in September 1943 Adam Chantrey, a 25-year old veteran of the bombing war is sent to Ansham Wolds to rebuild a shattered Lancaster squadron, Bomber Commands greatest battle is only weeks away.Exhausted and tormented by his own demons he discovers, amidst the chaos of war and loss, love and an unlikely inner peace up on the High Wold of Lincolnshire while all around him the world is enveloped in madness.View the madness of the world through the lens of Bomber Command at war in its darkest, most terrible days when a tour of 30 operations was a death sentence. But even in the worst of times, when nightmares stalk the bravest, there is hope and there is atonement. Such is the journey Adam Chantrey is embarking upon when he arrives at the gates of RAF Ansham Wolds in September 1943.Around 125,000 aircrew served in Bomber Command between 1939 and 1945. Of these, 58% - over 73,000 - became casualties. 47,268 aircrew were killed in action or died as prisoners of war. Another 8,195 perished in flying, ground and training accidents.Until the Night is set between September 1943 and January 1944 during the Battle of Berlin. In the period March 1943 to the end of March 1944, the period of the ‘Battles’ of the Ruhr, Hamburg and Berlin, a man’s chances of surviving a single tour of 30 operations was approximately 1 in 3. If a man defied the odds to survive one tour of operations he earned a six month respite and then he could be sent back at any time to fly a second, 20 operation tour. During this period his chance of surviving two tours of operations was around 1 chance in 6.It is a national disgrace that it took the best part of seven decades to dedicate a national memorial to Bomber Command’s fallen. However, this scandal palls to nothing in comparison with the moral cowardice of the wartime political leaders who when the peace finally came, attempted – with no little success – to blame the sea of rubble in Germany solely upon the airmen.The name of Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris is synonymous with the area bombing of Germany. Less well known is the fact that when he became Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Bomber Command on 22nd February 1942, he inherited the policy of ‘area bombing’ enunciated unambiguously in Air Ministry General Directive No.5 (S.46368/111. D.C.A.S), dated 14th February 1942. This directive made clear that Bomber Command was to have ‘priority over all other commitments’, and was ‘to focus attacks on the morale of the enemy civil population and in particular the industrial workers.’ Later in the war other priorities were added and subtracted to and from the mandate but the specific directive to target civilian populations was never rescinded.In the winter of 1943-44, few aircrew would have foreseen the shabbiness of the treatment they would receive from successive post-war governments. Not for them the luxury of strategic hand-wringing, not for them the Byzantine complexities of the Grand Alliance against the Axis, literally, for them their fate was simply to do or to die. For the men who flew Bomber Command’s heavies to Germany, the winter of 1943-44 was both their darkest, and their finest hour.So, remember the 600,000 Germans (probably many more, we shall never know) killed in the bombing. Remember the 60,000 plus killed in Britain by the Luftwaffe and by Hitler’s V-weapons. Remember that between June 1940 and June 1944, Bomber Command was the only major British – and Dominion – offensive force continually carrying the war to the Nazis. Remember, remember, remember that the greatest evil of war is the dreadful things that one’s enemies make us do to prevail.