The Strike Wings
Special Anti-Shipping Squadrons 1942-45
By Roy Conyers Nesbit
Pen and Sword (www.pen-and-sword.co.uk )
RRP GBP £19.99
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During World War 2 the Germans utilised a vital supply route from Scandinavia down to the European coast for their critical iron ore importations. The Nazi war machine required huge quantities of iron ore and this critical supply route was brought to the attention of the Allies.
In November 1942 the RAF acknowledged the importance of this supply route and acted accordingly by forming the special Strike Wings. This book consists of a classic account of this neglected yet critical theatre of air combat. People have heard about Fighter Command, Bomber Command and Coastal Command but not necessarily the Strike Wings which were part of the larger Coastal Command. The volume seeks to re-dress this situation and the author is a veteran of this formation. Thus he gives an interesting first-hand account of developments.
The book is a vivid history of events and it is clearly fascinating. These events were cloaked under secrecy rules but they are now “seeing the light of day”. These air battles were at close quarter and were ferocious. The German’s response to the Strike Wings underlined the extreme importance of these shipping routes to them. They tried fighters, intense and co-ordinated flak batteries, parachute mines and surprisingly, flame throwers. Naturally with this style of combat both sides suffered heavily and casualties mounted.
There are first-hand accounts of these actions and records from both British and German archives have been evaluated. There were nine squadrons in Strike Wing comprising of British and Commonwealth personnel and with a really nice touch the author dedicates the book to their memory.
There are a number of very interesting chapters and they place the history of Strike Wings into context. One feature about the book that deserves special comment is the excellent Appendices. The first one lists the location (station) of the squadrons, their commanding officers, important dates and type of aircraft used. Appendix 2 gives Kriegsmarine vessels attacked whilst Appendix 3 gives merchantmen losses due to the activities of the Strike Wings.
This stimulating book is highly commended and if you are after a book on these little known Coastal Command squadrons (wing) then there is no need to look any further.