Royal Air Force 1939-1945

Volume 2: The Fight Avails

By Dennis Richards and Hilary St. George Saunders


Of this Volume Chapters 5 to 12 were written by Dennis Richards and Chapters 1 to 4 and 13 to 16 by Hilary St. George Saunders

Crown Copyright Reserved

Printed and Published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Japan Strikes

Chapter 2: The Fall of Singapore

Chapter 3: Sumatra and Java

Chapter 4: Burma Falls

Chapter 5: Coastal Command and the Struggle at Sea: The North Russian Convoys, Photographic Reconnaissance, and Air-Sea Rescue

Chapter 6: Coastal Command and the Struggle at Sea: The Offensive against German Shipping and U-Boats in 1942

Chapter 7: Bomber Command and the Assault on Germany

Chapter 8: The Pressure Grows

Chapter 9: Middle East: CRUSADER

Chapter 10: Middle East: The Crisis of 1942

Chapter 11: Middle East: The Alamein Line and Decisive Victory

Chapter 12: TORCH and Tunisia

Chapter 13: Casablanca and the Ruhr

Chapter 14: Now These Things Befell in Sicily

Chapter 15: The Fight at Salerno

Chapter 16: The Path to Rome


Appendix 1: Members of the Air Council, 1942-1943

Appendix 2: Principal Air Commanders, 1942-1943

Appendix 3: Royal Air Force Command Organization, March, 1943

Appendix 4: First-Line Aircraft, British, German and Italian Air Forces, December, 1941 and March, 1943

Appendix 5: Principal Operational Aircraft of the Royal Air Force, 1942-1943

Appendix 6: Principal Operational Aircraft of the German Air Force, 1942-1943

Appendix 7: Principal Operational Aircraft of the Japanese Air Force, 1942-1943

Appendix 8: Order of Battle, Coastal Command, 15th February, 1943

Appendix 9: Order of Battle, Bomber Command, 4th March, 1943

Appendix 10: Order of Battle, Middle East Command, 11th November, 1941

Appendix 11: Order of Battle, Middle East Command, 27th October, 1942

Appendix 12: Order of Battle, Mediterranean Air Command, 10th July 1943

Appendix 13: Glossary of Code Names and Abbreviations


Maps and Diagrams

Malay Peninsula. Location of RAF Units, 8 December 1941

The Campaign in Malaya, 7 December-15 February 1942

The Campaign in Java and Sumatra, February-March 1942

The Japanese Advance through Burma, January-May 1942

Japanese Operations off Southern India, April 1942

The Battle of the Atlantic (IV), January-July 1942

The Battle of the Atlantic (V), August 1942-May 1943

Cyrenaica and the Western Desert, 1941

Rommel’s Plan of Attack, May 1942

The Malta Convoys, 14-16 June 1942 (Operations Harpoon and Vigorous)

The Position at El Alamein, 23 October 1942

Air Action against Enemy Sea Communications in the Mediterranean, 7 September-3 November 1942

Operation Torch, November 1942

The Tunisian Campaign, 19 March-13 May 1943

Principal Targets Attacked by Bomber Command, 1942-1943

The Invasion of Sicily, 10 July-17 August 1943

The Invasion of Italy, 3-16 September 1943

Operations in the Aegean, 9 September-22 October 1943

The Italian Front, September 1943-June 1944


Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder and Air Vice-Marshal A. Coningham—HMS Prince of Wales at Singapore—Vildebeest IV Torpedo-Bomber—A Sunderland Keeps Guard—Low-Level Attack on U-boat—Before and After—The 1000-Bomber Raid on Cologne—Souvenir of a Low-Level Flight to the Arc de Triomphe—Reconnaissance Photograph of Dieppe—Three of the Victorious Air Team in the Middle East—Axis Shipping at Tripoli Wrecked by British Bombing, January 1942—Valetta, May 1942—Uncrating an Aircraft at Takoradi—A Salvage Convoy nearing Cairo—Axis Shipping at Benghazi Wrecked by British Bombing—Gibraltar—Italian Aircraft at Castel Benito, March 1943—A Famous Visit—Mr. Churchill and General Montgomery—U-boat Pens at Brest—Before and After—The Möhne Dam—Wing Commander Guy Gibson—After the Allied Attacks at Cassino: The Monastery—After the Allied Attacks at Cassino: The Town