Battle of the Atlantic
RAAF in Coastal Command 1939-45
Big Sky Publishing, 2022
Paperback 180pp RRP $19.99
Reviewer: Adrian Catt, March 2023
If you liked John Quaife’s book Viking Boys about the missions flown by Australians loaned to British Coastal Command for operations in the North Sea during World War II, then you are really going to appreciate this superbly written and detailed account of RAAF 10 SQN and RAF 461 (RAAF) SQN personnel serving in the harshest of conditions, in the most vital battle for the survival of Britain, the Battle of the Atlantic.
This work exceeds Viking Boys for levels of detail, interest, and readability - it really is an exceptionally good read. Profiling the key players from Allied and Nazi sides, and their respective aircraft, tactics and successes, this evidence-based book remains factual and is very educational to readers of all levels who hold interests in military aviation and military history. It includes illustrations and photographs, technical data of the aircraft used by the opposing sides during the lengthy and arduous campaign detail the dimensions, power-plants, armaments, weight, and performance characteristics of the key Allied aircraft (Short Sunderlands, Consolidated Catalinas, B24 Liberators, Wellingtons, and Handley-Page Halifaxes), as well as Nazi machines ( U-boats and aircraft including Junker JU-88’s, and Focke-Wulf Condor).
The Battle for the Atlantic saw over 400 Australians serving in Coastal Command killed, and over 100 injured, in a campaign that stretched from Iceland to Gibraltar. These gallant warriors sought to close the Air-Sea gap and provide air cover to convoys of supply shipping providing essential food, aid, and war materiel to an increasingly-isolated Britain.
The unit histories and debrief of returned airmen provide the stories not only of ASDIC anti-submarine warfare (ASW) battles against the enemy, but also against the elements - extreme weather necessitating many ‘hair-raising’ search and rescue missions, reconnaissance sorties and patrols (with mixed success), including the recovery of eleven personnel adrift for days in a six-man life raft. Incredible!
The RUSI – Vic Library thanks the publisher for making this work available for review