No.457 (RAAF) Squadron 1941-1945 Book Review
|Date of Review||November 2007||Title||No.457 (RAAF) Squadron 1941-1945|
|Author||Jim Grant & Phil Listemann||Publisher||Philedition|
|Format||90 pages, softbound||MSRP (Euro)||19€|
Phil Listemann is a new (to me) publisher from southwestern France that specializes in interesting historical monographs. These titles are extremely well done and come from a direction that is overlooked by similar publishers these days, from the aspect of the people involved.
In this title, the authors take a look at 457 Sqn, one of the Article XV squadrons that were formed from Commonwealth members, with the block of squadrons starting with 450 allocated to the Royal Australian Air Force.
457 Sqn augmented the RAF in 1941 through 1942 at several bases within England, then moved down to bases around Australia and the southwest Pacific from 1942 through the end of the war.
So what is different about this title? Of the 90 pages, only 35 are taken to describe the history and highlights of the units operations during the war. Most other titles focus on this aspect of the unit's history. The remaining 91 pages are detailed appendices:
- Three pages summarizing the history of the squadron, its commanders, its operational losses in aircraft and men, its major awards, and its organizational assignments (mostly passed around bases of 10 and 11 Groups)
- One page listing the known registration numbers assigned to a particular aircraft code letter
- Two pages listing the bases assigned and durations of those assignments
- Three pages of sortie counts by day throughout the war
- Two pages of confirmed and probable kills listing date, pilot, aircraft serial, and victim aircraft
- One page of operational losses listing date, pilot, aircraft serial, and his fate
- One page of aircraft lost in training accidents
- One page listing the pilots who lost their lives during their assignment to 457 Sqn
- One page listing the pilots who became POWs
- 33 pages listing each member of 457 Sqn and where known, their previous assignment, their follow-on assignment, their fate, their awards, and key aspects of their time in the squadron
- One page detailing the senior officers that commanded the groups that 457 Sqn was assigned
The title is well illustrated with color profiles of representative aircraft from the squadron, photos of many of the pilots and men assigned to 457 Sqn, as well as period photographs of squadron aircraft.
Where most publishers will focus on the history of the unit and try to animate that history through 'war stories' from eyewitnesses, this title goes straight to the heart of any combat unit and provides a roll call and summary of each pilot who served.
The format of this title is very well done and I wish that others would likewise go back to many of the famous squadrons of the war and look at the men behind the exploits. Where some historians and modelers are inspired by flashy nose art, many more are inspired by the men themselves and here is an excellent tool to find out about virtually any pilot who flew with 457 Sqn.
While you may not immediately recognize 457 Sqn by number, you will recognize the Spitfires with their distinctive shark mouths as they appeared during the later years of the war. Now you can associate the man and machine with the events of the war as these men did their part to protect their homes and the Commonwealth.
This title is highly recommended and I certainly hope to see many more in this format in the future!
My sincere thanks to Phil H. Listemann for the review sample.