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RAF Observer's and Air Gunner's Flying Log Book

RAF Observer's and Air Gunner's Flying Log Book by HOWARD, Basil Leonard (1943)
Author: HOWARD, Basil Leonard
Title: RAF Observer's and Air Gunner's Flying Log Book & 4 Volumes of Diaries
Year: 1943
Publisher: RAF - Unpublished
Place: RAF Holme on Spalding Moor
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: No
Price: £1250
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Added under Manuscripts  

Flying Log Book and London Blitz diaries (1940-1942) of a 24 year old Roman Catholic Air Bomber shot down and killed during the biggest raid of the war on Cologne on 18th June 1943 - his first night on active service with the RAF.

Preprinted RAF Log book with Howard's name written on the upper cover and foreedge and '658131 Sgt Howard B' to the first page followed by details of his RAF training in South Africa using Anson and Oxford aircraft followed by stints in Newbury, Northampton and St Eval in Cornwall where he began flying Halifaxes. Finally after the months of training sorties, written in red pen at Howard's East Yorkshire base, RAF Holme on Spalding Moor:

'18.6.43 13.24 Halifax "R" Lft Parritt/ B/A [Air Bomber] Ops (Cologne) Missing'

Written below in blue ink: 'Death Presumed 29.6.43' and a summary of Howard's hours in the air. The stark entry refers to Howard's mission onboard the Halifax V DK137 which flew in the raid that night on Cologne which was the biggest of the war and from which 25 of 628 aircraft involved did not return - it later transpired that Howard and the rest of his crew were shot down by a German fighter over Belgium. Laid into the Log Book is a printed Compliments slip from the RAF 'The Air Officer in charge of Records feels sure that you wou would like to have this personal record in your possession' no doubt sent to his grieving parents.

Chronicling Howard's London life as a young Catholic soldier in west London before his hard-won transfer to the RAF are four small notebooks from 19 August 1940-8 June 1942 (c300 duodecimo sized pages). These were written while he was billeted in Holland Park in west London and record the Blitz on London and everything that Howard could glean about the wider conduct of the war, military and political, including Churchill's great speeches in the Commons.

It is his chronicling of the Luftwaffe's Blitz on London and the Battle of Britain that is of greatest interest here: 'A.A fire was clearly seen in the sky... Dog fights could be seen and 3 planes fell during this period as we saw them' (7th September 1940) then on the following day: 'Bombs dropped close and we were ordered to the basement... some incendiaries... Confined to billets all day expecting to be put on escort for convoys... One barrage balloon burnt and fell in S.E. midst an orange glow.'

On 22nd September 'One bomb whistled down in the vicinity of Notting Hill Gate & exploded. Shrapnel fell thick and fast on Palace Green... and some of it whirred as it fell and landed with a kind of dull smack.' In November Howard notes that 'It makes one's heart beat a shade faster' each time a bomb falls: 'I was proceeding along Pall Mall when a large H[eavy] E[explosive] fell close to St James St. it shook me!.. An incendiary was burning fiercely Sloane Street...' (8 December 1941).

In addition to the Log Book and diaries there is Howard's copy of the RAF New Testament with 'Per Ardua ad Astra' embossed on the upper cover.
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