158 Squadron Association

"Strength in Unity"

158 Squadron Literary Legacy

158 Squadron has left a remarkable literary legacy. No fewer than ten squadron personnel put pen to paper and produced published works. Some like the prolific James Campbell drew inspiration from their war time experiences to tell us fictional tales that have a solid ring of truth about them. Others such as Harry Lomas were moved to write of their own and their crew mates war time stories and experiences. Still others such as young Canadian poet Bertram Warr were writers before they were swept up in the drama and death of WW2 and of whom well known Canadian poet Earle Birney  wrote in his preface to Warr's posthumously published book "If Bertram Warr had survived, I think his book is evidence he could have been a leading poet of his generation". High praise indeed.

In addition to books written by squadron members there are a number of books written about the squadron or squadron personnel. Listed on this page are all the books that I know of written by squadron members or about the squadron and its brave men and women. If in reading this list you find it incomplete please let us know with details of the book(s) and author(s) missed out so that they may be added here


Books Written By Squadron Personnel


Harry Ball


Two Brothers At War  - 1992, Janus, ISBN-10: 1857560167, ISBN-13: 978-18560169
Harry Ball has written an exciting and graphic account of his life during World War Two, Sergeant Ball spent the war years as an air gunner and wireless operator in Halifax bombers and then as a prisoner in German POW camps. The scope of his narrative is widened by comparison of his experience with those of his brother who served as a Flight Lieutenant.


James Campbell


Maximum Effort  - 1957, Futura, ISBN: 0 8600 76065 4

This is the high-tension, fast moving story of a Bomber Squadron savagely mauled in the great saturation raids on Germany. In an atmosphere charged with the tautness of a bomb-aimer's flak-lit compartment the lives, loves and fears of the men who manned the Halifaxes of Bomber Command are vividly, even brutally, portrayed. This is bomber warfare stripped of its glamour; warfare powerfully, yet authentic ally set against the background of the massive thousand-bomber attacks on Hitler's Third Reich. The fury of those night skies of early 1944 flames anew through the drama of men keyed to breaking point; men whose life-span was measured in days.



The Bombing Of Nuremberg   - 1973, Allison & Busby, ISBN: 0 85031 108X

Nuremberg: The greatest air battle of all time... On the night of March 30 1944, Bomber Command sent 795 heavy bombers, Lancasters and Halifaxes, to obliterate the historic city of Nuremberg. James Campbell bases his book on the memories of the survivors on both sides. His vivid and dramatic reconstruction of the RAF's 'big chop night' provides and enthralling account of the greatest air battle of all time.



Bomber Stream Broken - 1976, Cressrelles, ISBN: 0 85956 024 4

Stark in its realism and authenticity, this novel is set against the background of RAF Bomber Command's saturation raids on German cities during World War II.


The Man Who Kissed Babies   - 1961, Muller, ISBN 10: B0000CKVHH

James Campbell's swift-moving convincing political drama, written by a man who knows his parliament well and makes its members tick .



Leonard Cottrell

The Night The Chain Broke - 1990, Private Printing.

Leonard Cottrell's story in his own words of his time in the RAF, his missions, and the amazing story of how bailed out of a stricken aircraft over France in June 1944. Cottrell managed to evade capture and eventually made it safely back to Britain


Robert C Kensett

A Walk In The Valley 2003, General Store Publishing House, ISBN: 1 894263 76 6

The story of the author's experiences as a navigator in the RCAF posted to RAF 158 Squadron Bomber Command during World War 2


Harry Lomas

One Wing High - 1995, Airlife Publishing Ltd, ISBN: 1 85310 3209

This is an authentic story, sometimes moving, often light-hearted, on a serious theme - the life and times of a World War II Bomber Command Command crew as told by the navigator


Douglas Robinson

Life Is A Great Adventure - 1997, Janus Publishing Co, ISBN: 1 85756 346 8

Life is A Great Adventure is a fascinating account of one young man's wartime service in the RAF. Volunteering in 1941 the author qualified as a pilot. He flew several missions over Germany until being captured after a crash landing. This, his story of those missions and his later experiences experiences in various prison camps is both exciting and entertaining.


A.V. "Tom" Sawyer


Only Owls And Bloody Fools Fly At Night  - 1982, Crécy Publising Limited, ISBN: 0 907579 92 2

Tom Sawyer's account is full of highly readable anecdotes about squadron life in Bomber Command and how, night after night, the crews struck at the enemy heartlands.


Kenneth Skidmore

Follow The Man With The Pitcher - 1996, Countryvise Ltd, ISBN: 0907768 89 X Far from being a story about Bomber Command, this is an account of the author's spiritual experiences from the time he baled out of his stricken Halifax bomber over Northern France until his return to England over three months later


Bertram James Warr

Acknowledgement To Life - 1970, The Ryerson Press, ISBN: 0 7700 0312 6

Covering the gamut of human emotions, at times combining irony and compassion, the poetry of Betram Warr derives its strength from his sense of the poet's vocation. There is a timeless quality in Warr's poetry. Bert Warr should be remembered not only because he died in the war but also for the language, imagery, emotion and music he gave us in the midst of it.


John Watson

Johnny Kinsman - 1955, Cassel & Company Ltd, ISBN 10: 0595010490 ISBN 13: 978-0595010493

A novel which describes with great insight the courage of the bomber crews, their fears, their fugitive loves'.


The Man Who Loved War - 1988, Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, ISBN-10: 0586070702, ISBN-13: 978-0586070703

SQUADRON of Traitors? Or Heroes? When South African Royal Air Force fighter pilot Christian "Flash" Jordan was shot down over the French coast, he fell on his feet. Major Rudolf von Mansdorff, Commandant of the POW camp at Leinefeld, was a man after his own heart he didn't want to sit out the war on the sidelines. Von Mansdorff's idea was for the South African ace to lead a multinational crack squadron of captured Allied pilots against the Russians under Luftwaffe colours."Flash" Jordan, an adventure-loving mercenary at heart, readily agreed, and Von Mansdorff set about clearing the idea with the Nazi high command. Goering and the Commandant's high-ranking brother were frankly doubtful but Hitler himself saw the potential of a brilliant propaganda coup and gave the go-ahead


Books About the Squadron


Sue Bamster - "Gilbert's Tin Treasury:The Story of Ross Gilbert" - 2009 Doohitchey Press, Melksham, ISBN: N/A

We don't have a synopsis for this book nor an image to of it to display. If you have a copy of this book or know anything about it please get in touch with us via the contacts page


Bond S, Denlow S, et al

Bomber Command: Failed To Return - 1990 P.A. Chorley, ISBN: 0 9507467 1 1

Chapter 11: Lost Over Hannover, recount's the loss of Robert William 'Robbie' Robinson's aircraft.


W.R. Chorley and R.N. Benwell

In Brave Company - 1990 P.A. Chorley, ISBN: 0 9507467 1 1

Very scarce history of 158 Squadron Royal Air Force. 158 operated Wellingtons in 1942 and went on to convert to the 4 engined Halifax heavy bomber which it utilised until the end of World War Two. The squadron was disbanded in 1946 after a short period in the transport role flying the Short Sterling.


Mark Cote

That Lucky Old Son   - 2018 Friesen Press, ISBN: 978-1-5255-2037-2, ebook: 978-1-5255-2038-9

A moving work of autobiographical fiction, That Lucky Old Son takes the reader on a journey of adventure, danger and self-discovery as the author weaves his own memories with his father's experiences in Bomber Command with 158 Squadron RAF during the Second World War.


Michael and Janet Cruikshank

The Unseen Dawn   - 2005 Private Publication

The story of a Halifax bomber crew. Dedicated to the everlasting memory of seven young men who came from three countries and became an aircrew. They gave their lives to ensure peace for future generations.


Bruce Barrymore Halfpenny

Bomber Aircrew In World War II - 2004, Pen And Sword ISBN: 1 84415 066 6

Chapter 11: Four Years In Service, is Doug Bancroft's account



Greg Lewis

Airman Missing - 2008 Newman Books, ISBN 10: 0955869900, ISBN 13:978-0955869907

The True Story of WWII Bomber Pilot John Evans' 114 Days Behind Enemy Lines


Ken Marshall

The Pendulum & The Scythe: Chapter 10 - 1996, Air Research Publications ISBN: 1-871187-32

Chapter Ten of this book follows the RAF careers of pilot Bill Strachan and his crew, navigator Cyril Keeton, wireless op Ted Richards, bomb aimer Johnny Wakefield, gunners Alan Parrish and Archie Tait and flight engineer Bob Stow from the moment they formed up through their training together, through their posting to 158 Squadron and to the finish of their tour of duty with squadron in 1945


Mel Rolfe

Flying Into Hell: Ch 9" - 2001 Grub Street, ISBN: 1 902304 77 2

Bringing real-life stories of bomber command at war, the author offers 20 dramatic stories of these brave men. Many of these stories demonstrate the amazing resilience of the human spirit and the unwavering courage of the young men who helped bomb the enemy into submission. A journalist by profession, the author has conducted his interviews and prepared the stories in such a way as to take the reader into the events as they happened.



Graham Scholes aided by David Mycock - "On A Wing And A Prayer" - 1995 Private Printing, ISBN: N/A