Don Charlwood’s perceptive and poignant recollection of his experiences as the navigator of a Lancaster flying night time bombing missions into Germany, “No Moon Tonight”, is usefully expanded by “Journeys Into Night”. The question as to the morality or utility of Bomber Command’s approach of area bombing aside, Charlwood unassuming and clear text paints a vivid image of the young aircrew of these missions as they strive to continue, night after night, in the face of paralysing odds. With loss rates of 3-6% per operation, surviving a tour of 30 ops was the exception. Of Charlwood’s own intake of twenty Australian navigators completing their course at the Empire Air Training Scheme in Canada, only five were to ever return home.
The only notable absence in this book (kindle edition) is the lack of photographs, which added greatly to No Moon Tonight, putting faces to the young men described so fondly by Charlwood. The addition of contemporaneous letters and diary entries from his friends from training and operational life provides extra insight into the views of these colleagues.
A detailed description of a Bomber Command navigator’s journey from a quiet life in Australia to care free training in Canada and then into the nightmare of the air battle over Europe with the constant threat of a fiery death hanging over. The writer takes the reader into the heart and minds of his crew and his colleagues as they manage the strain of every raid knowing that their chances of surviving 30 combat operations is almost impossible. It is both personal and gripping and filled with fascinating technical insights into bomber operations. Well worth a read. We should acknowledge the bravery of these men and the stress on those who supported them. Don Charlwood is a brilliant and engaging writer.