❴Reading❵ ➶ Bomber County Author Daniel Swift – Horse-zine.co.uk



10 thoughts on “Bomber County

  1. says:

    I have been reading books about war for several months now, probably to make up for never having personally had to be in one Matterhorn, War, The Things They Carried, On Killing, The Winds of War, War Made Easy to name some reading this year Bomber County is the latest entry into the war category and is unique in its effort to focus on bomber poetry Daniel Swift tries to mix too many issues into one book The author definitely deserves a heartfelt Good try for digging up a lot of information I am glad that I read the book and it highlighted some new information for me and made me think Maybe I just need to find the book that covers bombing in the 20th century I think the story of Swift s search for his grandfather could be plenty good by itself.Bomber County is Lincolnshire in eastern England and is the location of dozens of RAF bomber airfields from World War II It is closest to Holland and then to Germany Bomber County is where the bombers left from and where they came home to This is an example of an oasis of storytelling in a book overloaded with too much analysis and too many tangents There were clouds this evening in Bomber County, and at 1800 the meteorological station at Mildenhall, north east of Cambridge, recorded a temperature of 73 degrees and a firm southerly breeze The squadron log notes Conditions on take off anything but ideal, but at twenty two minutes past eleven Lancaster bomber 5686 lifts up, third in the stream.Along the runway, the Lancaster leans to port, and my grandfather counters in a push upon the throttle a last shaking, a shrug of metal upon rubber, rubber upon tarmac, and up at ninety five miles per hour At 500 feet he raises the flaps and the nose pulls down The take off rhythm rattles out and smoothes now They are climbing at close to 150 miles per hour, and he clicks off the fuel booster pumps The cloud is thick with other planes so this must be precise and now the plane is smaller for a moment, one among the crowd Inside the plane are one 4,000 lb bomb and eight bundles of incendiaries, each a dozen skinny sticks The big raid tonight is on Dusseldorf, with 783 planes, but they had flown out forty minutes before My grandfather s plane is one of seventy two on Munster and they gather just north of Southwold, on the English coast, at half past midnight, and turn south east. at nineteen minutes past one and 15,000 feet a Messerschmitt prowls past a Halifax from my grandfather s bomber group rear and mid upper gunners shoot back and the German plane sheers off Just to their north, twelve minutes later, another night fighter is seen and vanishes But then Swift abandons the story to tell us the mechanics of his research for this segment this would have been better in a note at the end of the book, not in the midst of an action scene Details about his research and his analysis of poems are woven into the entire book and distract from the story Maybe an arrangement that separates the story and the research details and the analysis would have made the book readable for me As it was, I felt like I was often pulled from one thing to another.The glue of the story is the author s search for the details of his grandfather s life and death in Western Europe at the age of 30 as a bomber pilot The subtitle of the book, The Poetry of a Lost Pilot s War, puts one aspect of the book front and center a focus on war poetry And Swift does write about well known poets as well as unknown poets who wrote poetry to tell the stories and feelings of war and the bombers In the construction of the book he regularly returns to this focus in some detail but also has long sections that have no connection to poetry In fact, his grandfather was not a poet Swift spends a good deal of time analyzing the poetry but, for me, not in a very satisfying way It seemed like he was saying, See, look at it this way when I would have preferred to discover some connections myself Please don t spell every detail out for me, Mr Swift.There is some excellent consideration of the moral issues of saturation bombing like Dresden and Hamburg, thinking about it from the point of view of the bomber crews and history Planes shot down by their own defenses and midair collisions are a reminder of the mean irony of war The bombers who fly and do not return threaten our need for stories because they thwart the possibility of an ending The bombers who kill civilians in foreign cities threaten our demand for goodness in our heroes George Orwell is quoted War is by its nature barbarous, it is better to admit that Some of the moral issues are considered with the question of how far the author s grandfather would go before reaching his personal moral limit Early in the bombing campaign in Europe, flying was by landmarks and targets were barely visible from 14,000 feet Bombing was on clear nights, hopefully with a full moon The stunning lack of accuracy at that stage was examined only 20% of bombs fell within five miles of the target Later in the campaign, radar and other navigation and aiming assistance improved accuracy So initially it was civilians killed by accident and later it was civilians killed on purpose in spite of Geneva Convention wartime rules of discrimination and proportionality and the 1939 promise by the British government not to bomb civilian targets that would kill women and children Life on the receiving end of bombing in London and Germany is described Daniel Swift reveres archives I began this book because I believe that archives are the cathedrals, holy houses where may be answered even the hardest human loss His research of records is stunning, assuming you are not too busy looking at the trees and miss the forest He locates British records of bombs dropped in a specific city, date and time and compares that information with German records recording bomb hits at that same place and time The number of back office people in a war is legion and the detail of the records they kept was surprising to me There was actually a medical post mortem examination of Swift s grandfather after his body washed up on the Holland shore There was a detailed procedure, even in wartime He was buried in Holland and he was moved from one burial location to another All duly recorded Swift found the name of the Nazi pilot also deceased who shot down his grandfather s bomber He tracked down the records in addition to many interviews and site visits in England, Germany and Holland He was thorough I do not know much about what is required for a doctorial thesis, but this book might qualify as such a thesis with the addition of footnotes There is a bibliography The thesis to be illuminated is Bombing was to the Second World War what the trenches were to the First a shocking and new form of warfare, wretched and unexpected, and carried out at a terrible scale of loss Just as the trenches produced the most remarkable poetry of the First World War, so too did the bombing campaigns foster a haunting set of poems during the Second Since I have never evaluated a doctorial thesis, I cannot say if this one would be accepted But I think it needs work for readability and clarity.There surely could have been editing and organizing One goal of the author is to uncover the hidden tradition of bombing poets I don t think he succeeds but certainly he found some poetry written by bombers that has been preserved in his beloved archives But couldn t we say that any group of people includes some who write poetry Seems obvious No need to write a book to prove that Collect some of the poetry, add some commentary and make that a book There is so much talk surrounding the bits and pieces of poems that Swift does include, the poems are hidden or only a few lines Overall, I think he tries to cover too much territory, saying a bit about so many related and tangential topics Did I mention the summaries of several 1940s war movies that he included Now I will be interested to see what other people think about this month old book that is on the to read list of relatively few people I wonder if all of them got the email from Barnes Noble about this book I gave it three stars because it did cover several topics that especially interested me, especially the moral issues of bombing There were some places where I didn t want to put the book down and there were other places where I could hardly hold the book up.


  2. says:

    I recently read Daniel Swift s Bomber County The Lost Airmen of WW2 on the strength of its title and, an interview I heard Swift give on the ABC Sydney, Aust I began reading this book with great enthusiasm but by the end I found myself feeling rather angry I have three main issues with this book I find the title, Bomber County The Lost Airmen of WW2 to be opportunistic, misleading to say the least and, in the extreme dishonest Swift jumped on the name when he went to the 57 Sqn reunion at East Kirkby and obviously thought it would make a good title for his book The book however, if you dissect it, has less to do with Bomber County and lost airmen It is rather, a treatise on the poetry of WW2 and the morality of the bombing campaign Swift of course is entitled to discuss these topics but he cloaks them in his grandfather s story which, as I got further into the book seemed an excuse for the book and, while it is craftily woven into the fabric of his narrative the focus is far from what the title promises The other thing I began to pick up on as I read was the overall tone of the work which I thought was subtly demeaning towards the airmen who served in Bomber Command and especially those who died.He refers to the airmen as bombers , in a way that totally dehumanises them, as if they are like the machines in which they flew and are in some way inseparable from them Then, on p.183 he says He my grandfather was lost, neatly, at just the right time, and so I could tell the story of a hero a pilot of the early bombing, justified and absent from the atrocities of later history He was not in Hamburg or at Dresden This demonises all those airmen who came after Swift got a lot of interesting stories from the veterans when he and his father first attended the 57 Sqn reunion These are great stories when they surface through the book, stories about the day to day lives of these extraordinary men who flew out night after night, in the Lancasters But, there is a disparaging undercurrent throughout Quote The old bombers wear blue blazers, with rows of medals on their left breast pocket Each time we ask, were you at Feltwell in 1941, and each time there is a pause before they answer, no These are survivors, and they joined later, in 43 and 44 and so theirstories are of the last raids of the war, when Berlin was lit with fire It was one of these veterans who paid for Swift to do the taxi run in Just Jane so he could experience what it was like to be inside a Lancaster but later, in the last paragraph of chapter six he says I returned to the 57 Squadron reunion at East Kirkby I wanted to see thebombers together again, and to see who my grandfather might have become, had he grown old As before, the women had fixed hair and brooches in the shape of Lancasters, and the men in blue blazers drank As before, my father and I looked around the room and thought, no, he wouldn t have been like that at all Considering that the stories from these men were some of the best parts of Swift s book, to describe them in this way is, to say the least rather undignified However, when Swift discusses the book or gives readings these stories are at the forefront not so much the poetry and especially not the morality issues.The dissertation on poetry, which makes up the bulk of Swift s work is ponderous in my view and far from effective James Purdon, The Observer, Sunday 29 August 2010 notes this in his review In terms of Swift s discussion of the morality of the bombing campaign, a contentious issue to say the least, my problem here is not in the discussion of it but in the lack of balance when talking about the bombing in UK as against the bombing in Germany and the use of highly emotive references when discussing the latter quote from 45,000 dead in Hamburg to Berlin in early February 1945 and British and American planes burned down Dresden, killing 60,000 I was disappointed in this book Publish or perish I have since found that it was published in the US under the title Bomber County The Poetry of a Lost Pilot s War which, given the nature of the book might have been a appropriate title all round, though, poetic license aside, none of the airfields Swift s grandfather flew from were actually in Bomber County which is Lincolnshire My uncle was one who gave his life in Bomber Command in 1945 and rather than think, It takes a book like Bomber County to remind us of the sacrifice made by the airmen it is as if someone has walked on his grave.


  3. says:

    Daniel Swift is a Professor of English at Skid College in upstate New York He is British, and a graduate of Oxford He is in his early 30s His book has two central goals to discover the life of his father s father, a pilot in the Royal Air Force during World War II,who died during a mission over Germany in 1943, and to review the quality of the poetry written during World War II Mr Swift mentions early on that WW2 is not thought of as having produced the quality of poetry that was written during WW1.Often accompanied by his father, who lost his father when he was four, Mr Swift, through frequent travels to areas associated with his grandfather s service in the RAF, and together with impressive, prodigious research, presents us with not only a biography of his grandfather, but also a fairly thorough, if concise, review of the war years and their effect on both England and Germany He interweaves short biographies of key literary figures of the era Stephen Spender, Randall Jarrell, TS Eliot, James Dickey, Virginia Woolf with glimpses of the history both macro, as it would appear in contemporary and recent accounts of the period, and micro, as revealed in interviews Mr Swift conducted with a number of people he met while researching his book Particularly trenchant are interviews with people who served at the time the author s grandfather was in the RAF.All in all, I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in World War II, poetry written as responses and reflections to either observation or direct experience of war, and of the effect on British and German people on the home front.


  4. says:

    Easily deserves five stars though quite understand that others will disagree.The author s paternal grandfather James Eric Swift a Lancaster bomber pilot with 83 Squadron of the Royal Air Force, took part on a bombing raid over Munster in June 1943 He went missing, his body was later recovered from the North Sea, and he was buried in The Netherlands with full military honours He was married with two young children.The author describes his travels with his father , around the Lincolnshire airfields, and to Germany and to The Netherlands to learn about his grandfather s death Fascinating tale in its own right..but the book merges the family research with a background material about the RAF bombing raids over Germany along with cultural history World War 2 poetry is used as a significant reference point In fact the author stresses that The Iliad was the first war poetry Films and plays about World War 2 somehow get drawn into the text and examines to get a whole wider view of RAF pilots.Some readers will want either the family research trail or RAF history or perhaps the literature Not everyone wants to have the three subjects fused together in the same book But its a book that I want to read again immediately and also treat as a reference book.


  5. says:

    The literature of World War II has seen countless books covering just about every aspect of war imaginable, though few, if any, explore the poetry of air bombing Using as his starting point a visit to his grandfather s grave and uncovering the man s story through documents, interviews, and histories, including W G Sebald s On the Natural History of Destruction, Swift succeeds in combining memoir, history, literary criticism, and biography no easy matter I think I wanted to tell a story, and my grandfather was available he writes, and he nimbly juggles the two very different parallel story lines Although the story could have gotten away from him, Swift explains away the sometimes jarring juxtaposition of his grandfather s life and death with the poetry of annihilation Swift writes well and with great insight, and the poetry becomes a lens through which he views the war s complicated and poignant legacy This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.


  6. says:

    When I was in high school, I really loved the war poets of WWI despite being a completely unpoetic soul Daniel Swift looks at the poetry of WWII and the bombers in particular as well as the story of his grandfather who died on a bombing mission in June 1943 I didn t find the poetry that interesting, and according to Swift, it isn t really that great What was interesting is the public view about the bombing and the bombers During WWI, people died at the front During WWII, civilians died from bombing e.g the blitz, Dresden in addition to soldiers on the various fronts The bombing had two purposes bombing specific facilities that aided the war, and dampening the morale of the citizens So the bombers were never really regarded as heroes I loved the story of Swift s grandfather I didn t always feel like all the pieces hung together but Swift is a really terrific writer.


  7. says:

    Although the Swift family knew that their grandfather died with his crew piloting a Lancaster bomber over the North Sea in 1943, it was a vague historical anecdote until the author s father was seized by a midlife obsession with finding out The book follows them to the Netherlands, where the bodies washed up, to Munster, where survivors talk about what happened during bombing raids, to RAF museums and through a sidelight on the author s own literary expertise the poetry generated by the new air war, so startling different from WWI verse, as these lines from Randall Jarrell, In bombers names for girls, we burned The cities we had learned about in school Till our lives wore out.


  8. says:

    excellentI finished BOMBER COUNTY THE POETRY OF A LOST PILOT S WAR by Daniel Swift a few days ago Swift recounts his search for closure on the death of his grandfather, the pilot of an RAF Lancaster that went down over the Dutch north coast in the summer of 1943 Sebald, Jarrell, Ciardi, James Dickey are referenced as well as the popular culture, accounts of the devastation of Hamburg Dresden, and the history of the RAF Bomber CommandSome of you may appreciate it Swift has also written on Ezra Pound Saint Elizabeth s The Bughouse My wife is reading that one now I get it next.


  9. says:

    A great book which looks closely at the experiences of being a pilot in Bomber Command in WW11 The book charts the author s search for his grandfather s life history during this period to his death off the coast of Holland following a night raid over Germany A fascinating story linking poetry to events to highlight what it may have felt like to be a bomber pilot at that time Not always an easy read but nevertheless enjoyable Well worth setting time aside to glimpse life from a very differnt, unique and remarkable historical perpective.


  10. says:

    It s very odd to watch the author grappling with the imaginative significance of the bomber, with the poetry of the heavy bomber, and to see him having so much difficulty with it To me it s fierce and clear, and it s his thoughts and conclusions that seem ghostly by comparison, slipping out of my fingers without making sense Having said that, it was fascinating to watch him make the attempt It made me think things I hadn t thought before And the poetry itself, and the story of his grandfather are quietly haunting.


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Bomber County download Bomber County , read online Bomber County , kindle ebook Bomber County , Bomber County 7b46f5634361 In Early June , James Eric Swift, A Pilot With The Rd Squadron Of The Royal Air Force, Boarded His Lancaster Bomber For A Night Raid On M Nster And DisappearedWidespread Aerial Bombardment Was To The Second World War What The Trenches Were To The First A Shocking And New Form Of Warfare, Wretched And Unexpected, And Carried Out At A Terrible Scale Of Loss Just As The Trenches Produced The Most Remarkable Poetry Of The First World War, So Too Did The Bombing Campaigns Foster A Haunting Set Of Poems During The SecondIn Researching The Life Of His Grandfather, Daniel Swift Became Engrossed With The Connections Between Air War And Poetry Ostensibly A Narrative Of The Author S Search For His Lost Grandfather Through Military And Civilian Archives And In Interviews Conducted In The Netherlands, Germany, And England, Bomber County Is Also An Examination Of The Relationship Between The Bombing Campaigns Of World War II And Poetry, An Investigation Into The Experience Of Bombing And Being Bombed, And A Powerful Reckoning With The Morals And Literature Of A Vanished Moment