Seven Short Lives: Pro Libertate by S B Potter, Tucann Books, 280pp, sbk, illus, £12
At its heart this is the story of seven young airmen, all of whom were brought together from differing backgrounds to fly as the crew of an Avro Lancaster in World War Two, and all of whom were lost on their 28th trip together in July 1944. It also gives a much broader account – not only does author S B Potter detail the stories of each of the seven, but he also puts this into context with the developing state of the war. Not just the men, but the machines used at the time are profiled, and the book also looks at the enemy and what the men of RAF Bomber Command were facing as they flew on hazardous nocturnal operations.
This account was originally collated for the families of the crew members, the narrative revealing some remarkable coincidences, and telling a story which is both heart-warming and heart-breaking in equal measure. Personal testimonies, photographs, letters, diaries and maps connect to build a story which had been all but lost by the young men’s families. It is a tale of people brought together by circumstances, living through both the routine and the highly dangerous, and ultimately – like so many – making the ultimate sacrifice. The book can be ordered through the following website, and also can be ordered through some branches of Waterstones, from the RAF Metheringham Visitor Centre in Lincs, the Aviation Bookshop in Tunbridge Wells, and the Marlow Tourist and Information Centre.