Radio 4 Military History/Bomber

BBC - Radio 4 and 4 Extra Blog: Len Deighton's Bomber on Radio 4 Extra: Drama in real time

Briefly, Bomber tells the story of a bombing raid on Germany by the RAF in 1943. It focuses on the experiences of a handful of bomber crews, the civilians in the town they bomb, and the nightfighter crews sent against them. The bombers take off in the early evening. It will take them three hours to plod to Germany, and three hours to crawl back. Those destined to make it home, or survive on the ground, do so before midnight.

... Radio 4 decided to test the real time theory. No-one knew whether this experiment would work or not. I think it did.

Firstly, tension - especially as Len's marvellous characters were impossible not to care about - is rarely allowed to build over nine hours in any medium. That delayed action bomb, fused in the mid-afternoon, only concludes its deadly purpose just before midnight.

Secondly, just carrying on with one's petty schedule (I was unpacking in my new flat), lends a remarkable contrasting insight to the unfolding dramatic incidents. It took an hour to do those three boxes, and an hour for ten Lancaster bombers to be shot down with seven men aboard each one. I have never felt so humblingly safe in my life.

...There are many other things about Bomber, not least the performances, the script, the direction, the authenticity for which we strove and the remarkable reminiscences I recorded in peaceful sitting rooms in Britain and Germany, dovetailed into the action.

But the effect of all these will, I promise you, be multiplied if you are able to follow the story in real time. Park the iPlayer for this one. As one listener wrote after the first transmission:

"Thank you for Bomber. It completely ruined my day. I had planned a dinner party, but my guests and I were compelled to sit by the radio right through to midnight.
Got a whole week of stuff:

BBC - Radio 4 - Remembrance 11.11.11

BBC - Radio 4 - Collections: Second World War Collection

BBC - BBC Radio 4 Programmes - The Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail: Larry Grauerholz

Larry Grauerholz escaped over the Pyrenees with the help of the French Resistance. He was a navigator on a US Air Force B-17 which was shot down on January 4th 1944 on a bombing mission over France. He now lives in Wichita Falls, Texas. He told Edward Stourton his story.

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