Reading and learning are two of my passions and it is my pleasure to share these books with you.I have read them all and have found them to be both insightful and engaging. I encourage your feedback and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.
Maj Chris Buckham
Tuesday, 28 April 2015
The Sky Their Battlefield II - Trevor Henshaw
Original written by Chris Buckham. Published in the Journal of the RCAF.
The Sky Their Battlefield II
undertake two main roles in the course of their studies, one is to gather first
hand recollections, information and statistics and secondly, to take that
information and interpret and recount it for future audiences. Henshaw has
produced a reference work of enormous breadth and depth, cataloguing the
losses, on all fronts, of the British Commonwealth airforces from 1912 until
1919, as well as United States casualties from 1916 onwards.
book is structured in a very logical way with an easy to follow layout,
ensuring the reader can access whatever aspect of information that they are
seeking quickly and efficiently. Commencing with a guide on how to follow the
nomenclature of the book, he has incorporated in excess of 16,800 casualty
(wounded, missing and killed) write-ups into the body of the book broken out by
year, region and accident or combat. He has also referenced thousands of German
records in order to confirm Allied losses.
within the text is an ongoing narrative of significant events that add
dimension to his work. It is very easy to view these losses in a very two
dimensional way, especially given the common structure of presentation;
however, Hernshaw has provided hundreds of photographs that clearly present the
grim results of many an airman's dream. His interjections highlight interesting
events within the chronological layout of the text; thus he identifies, as
examples, new aircraft introductions , air lessons learned during the Ypres
battles, Hindenburg line preparations, and a myriad of other information
relating to the development, execution and challenges of aircraft design and
combat. The central theme however, of recognition and identification of the
fate of aircrews, remains the central focus throughout.
to this publication is an Accident Addendum that outlines the fates of the
4,530 aircrew that were injured or killed in circumstances not directly related
to enemy action. This is both very appropriate and informative as history tends
to forget about those whose sacrifices resulted from old airframes, limited
experience, poor air doctrine and a host of other 'behind the lines' reasons.
Henshaw also incorporates those 'other rank' members who were lost but there is
no known cause; their sacrifice is no
less telling or significant.
aspect of this work that lends weight and credence to it as an outstanding
source for future historians is the analysis undertaken by the author of the
information that he has gleaned from the official records. This represents the
second phase of historical relevance: statistics are only as worthwhile as the
interpretation of what they tell you. His evaluation and presentation in table
form of the operational cause factors (ie bombing, strafing, reconnaissance
etc) of loss is a goldmine of information in and of itself. His appendices
include such components as: Western Front Losses 1914-1918 by Aircraft Type,
Nature of Operations, Cost of Aircraft and Engines, AIR1 Casualties from Kew,
RFC and RAF Roles of Honour and Analyses of Losses throughout the war from
1912-1919. Each of these ispresented as useable raw data with emphasis placed
upon key aspects and markers such as casualty rates by aircraft type.
amount of time and effort associated with researching and cataloguing the
information within this book is staggering. The scope and depth of the analysis
and the discussion of what the statistics amount to is second to none. Henshaw
has provided for the reading public and the future historian, a treasure trove
of information and a testament to the sacrifice of the personnel of the Royal
Flying Corps, the Royal Air Force, Royal Naval Air Service, the Commonwealth
air services and the nascent United States Airforce. One only begins to
appreciate the vastness of the operations and the geographic scope of the
undertaking when it is laid out for you in a format such as this. Henshaw is to
be commended for producing a book of such richness and gravity.