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Crew: The Story of ohe Men Who Flew Raaf Lancaster J For Jig - Book Review

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by May (subscribe)
Typical Gemini, with the concentration span of a gnat & not one for sitting still. My old Da used to say that "you're a long time dead". So my mantra is get busy living.Please join me for more at
Published April 17th 2019
A military book for those of use who don’t read war books
Mike Colman is an award-winning Australian journalist. A couple of years ago I remember reading an article he wrote for Brisbane's Saturday newspaper which immediately appealed.

Essentially, whilst watching his children play in a park at St Johns Wood in inner Brisbane, Colman spotted a giant tree with a big boulder placed in front. On that boulder was a plaque saying the tree was planted in memory of Clifford Berger Hopgood, who'd been killed on a bombing raid over France in 1944.

Colman followed through with the story of Cliff Hopgood and vowed to chase up the story of the other six crew members in that plane that night.

Courtesy of author
Book cover

"Which I did, it took me six years and that's the book", Colman says. Published in 2018, Crew : The Story Of The Men Who Flew RAAF Lancaster J For Jig is a great read.

Colman's introduction sets it up beautifully. "There were seven men in J For Jig that night in February 1944, heading for Germany - seven out of a total of 125,000 who served as aircrew for RAF Bomber Command between 1940 and 1945. Their backgrounds were not unusual. They weren't a special crew, a famous crew, they were as ordinary as can be. And that's what makes them important. Because their stories are also the stories of the 125,000- who they were, what they did, whom they loved and whom they left behind."

Four died and are buried together in a little French village (Villers-sous-Preny), two escaped to Switzerland with assistance from the French Underground, and the badly injured pilot did it awfully tough being moved from one German prison camp to another. It's unpleasant reading, but important if we are to learn from our mistakes.

Not only has Colman gathered the information that is interesting for historical purposes and written in a manner that makes it palatable to all demographics (such as us non-technical types), but the human interest side is equally fascinating, including the French reaching out to the families of the fallen some years after wars end.

It's also another hat off to the families, loved ones and civilians who "soldiered on" to survive this piece of our history. Magnificent stuff.

Finished this one in a single sitting. A perfect read with ANZAC Day just around the corner.

*Available in all good book stores.
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