"The Hardest Day" by Alfred Price

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  1. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    #1 Njaco, Nov 1, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2011
    Hardest Day The Battle Of Britain 18 August 1940
    by Alfred Price
    ISBN 13: 9781898800125
    ISBN 10: 189880012X

    223 pages
    84 photographs
    17 diagrams

    Back Cover Statement: "When the quiet of a fine summer's day was shattered by three massive Luftwaffe assaults, it was to herald the finest hour of 'The Few' and the most destructive day of the Battle of Britain."

    Review from Amazon: "This is the story of one single day in the Battle of Britain. Sunday 18 August 1940 saw the Luftwaffe launch three major air assaults on Britain and the events of that day changed the destiny of the war. Alfred Price gives a compelling minute-by-minute account of that hardest day as experienced by those involved - RAF and Luftwaffe aircrew, behind-the-scenes planners and strategists, and members of the public above whose towns and villages the battle was waged. The author's exhaustive research was indeed timely because many of those he interviewed during the 1970s are no longer alive."

    Personal Review: This is one of the best books ever written by Dr. Alfred Price and about the Battle of Britain. Filled with many photos taken that day along with great diagrams of airfields and aircraft formations, maps etc, I have found this book to be a great addition to my library. Price did exhaustive research and created a timeline filled with recollections of Luftwaffe crew, RAF aircrew and civilians on the ground to give the reader as complete a diary of one single day during World War II. I've read it several times and each time it has been highly enjoyable. Price has limited the descriptive adjectives to quickly reflect the action and give a great sense of the battles that were waged above England and France that day.

    An excerpt: page 50

    "Over the eastern half of England the Luftwaffe sent single aircraft, to lay mines off the coast or to make harrassing attacks on the airfields used by RAF Bomber Command. One of the intruders, a Junkers Ju 88 of NJG 1, fell foul of a Blenheim of No. 29 Squadron piloted by P/O Richard Rhodes. It was a fine night, with visability about 10 miles in the bright moonlight. Rhodes sighted the enemy aircraft but, in spite of a 35-minute chase with the lumbering Blenheim's throttles wide open, he was unable to close within normal firing range. Other Blenheims were ordered to try to cut off the intruder's escape but none succeeded in making contact., Finally, as the raider crossed the coast at Spurn Head soon after 3am, Rhodes recieved orders from the ground to fire at the enemy and hope for a few lucky hits. Some 400 yards behind his quarry Rhodes lined up his sights then pressed the firing button for two long 8-second bursts, until the hiss of compressed air escaping from the breach blocks sshowed that he had fired all 2397 rounds in the magazines of his five forwards-firing machine guns.

    Some of the rounds must have struck the enemy aircraft, however, for now it slowed down and entered cloud still pursued by the Blenheim. 'We came out of clound and there, 150 yards behind us and to our left, was the enemy,' recalled Rhode's gunner Sgt. 'Sticks' Gregory. 'I don't know who was the more scared, me or the Germans.' Gregory swung round his turret and fired a short sighting burst with his Vickers gun at the aircraft which he took to be a Heinkel 111, then emptied the rest of the 100-round drum in a single long burst. Flames licking its cockpit and starboard wing, the damaged aircraft spiraled down gently through the patchy cloud and crashed into the sea. There were no survivors from the Junkers 88's three-man crew; the war had claimed its first lives on 18 August.

    Afterwards, Rhodes and Gregory landed at Digby and excitedly described their long chase and ultimate success, in the squadron's crewroom. At this time a victory at night was a great rarity and there were congratulations from everyone except the squadron's armament officer, a Warrant Officer, who burst into the room carrying the Vickers gun that Gregory had used. 'Who was the gunner on that aircraft?' he demanded. Gregory said that he had been. 'Well you're on a charge!' the Warrant Officer said, 'look at the barrel of this gun!' The Vickers had not been designed for such harsh usage and Gregory's long bursts had ruined it. Salvation was close at hand, however. The squadron commander, Wing Commander Stan Widdows, spun round and declared, 'I think we can ignore that, Chiefie; he's just shot down an aircraft with it!'"

    I love how this book reads and would highly suggest it be an addition to anyone's war-time aviation library.
     

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  2. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

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    got that one Chris, great book
     
  3. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Been on my 'wants' list for some years - must get it some day !
     
  4. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Terry, you will NOT be disappointed. This is truly a great book.
     
  5. N4521U

    N4521U Well-Known Member

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    Bought that book from one of them shopping center tables, and finished reading just recently. Really puts the battle in a day to day perspective.

    Will pass it on to someone here in Oz if they would like to read it!!!!!!
     
  6. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    It's a goodie.
     
  7. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Very cool! Thanks for the review Chris.
     
  8. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Agreed, great book!
     
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