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A Dictionary of Coastal Command 1939 - 1945

Geoff Simpson
This is a book about Coastal Command, but a book with a difference. Instead of being a conventional history of Coastal Command in the Second World War, it’s an A – Z of facets of that history. The author has written similar books about Bomber Command and the Battle of Britain.

The book starts with Aalesund, a Norwegian port that was the subject of a bombing raid by Coastal Command in October 1941. It finishes with Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force and briefly discusses the role of the WAAFs in Coastal Command. In between, the book covers a wide range of topics. Some are predictable, such as the Catalina and Sunderland flying boats used for Coastal Command’s long and lonely Atlantic patrols. Others are slightly more surprising, such as Coastal Command’s involvement in Operation Dynamo – the evacuation from Dunkirk.

The book is well researched and covers a lot of ground with some of the information not covered in the more conventional histories of Coastal Command and the Battle of the Atlantic. The information in the book is also conveyed in an easily readable and readily understandable way. The weakness of the ‘dictionary’ approach is that you need a knowledge of Coastal Command and the part it played in the Battle of the Atlantic to put the information in the book into context. The book would have substantially benefited from a 20-page introduction giving a potted history of Coastal Command from its formation in 1936 up until the end of the Second World War.

The quality of information in the book is such that it can be recommended for someone looking to add to a collection of books on the Second World War. But as a ‘stand-alone’ book on Coastal Command, it does suffer from the lack of context that an introductory chapter could have provided.
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