Eyes of the Night

Air Defence of North-western England 1940 - 41

Joe Bamford, Ron Collier

Date Published :
March 2006
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
80 images
No associated books available.


In the early years of WW2 two of Britain's most important industrial cities, Liverpool and Manchester were woefully unprotected from enemy bombing raids. Once the capitulation of France had occurred after Dunkirk, the Luftwaffe was able to base its vast bomber fleet at forward airfields that brought these strategic targets within their range. The effect was catastrophic and the two cities and surrounding industrial centers bore the brunt of the Nazi airborne blitz. It was clear that more anti-aircraft guns and fighter aircraft were desperately required to stop the slaughter of the population and vital industries. Thus was conceived 9 Group of the Royal Air Force, charged with the air defense of the entire region.

This book relates how the Group was formed and the immense difficulties involved - due to shortages of suitable aircraft, guns and operational infrastructure. Fought mostly at night during a period when night-fighter tactics were in their infancy and inexperienced aircrew were having to fly over difficult mountainous terrain and in appalling weather conditions resulting in a high casualty rate.

Eventually things improved and the Squadrons within 9 Group started to bring down significant numbers of raiding bombers whether they approached from the East or took advantage of neutral Ireland's street lights to guide them via the Irish Sea to their intended targets.

About The Author

Joe Bamford joined the RAF as an assistant air traffic controller and served at Manston and Cyprus; he later set up ‘The Salford Lancaster Memorial Appeal’. John Williams joined the Army and served for nine years with the Royal Ordinance Corps. Williams has been involved with a number of local history organisations, including the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Building at Manston. Peter Gallagher worked for British Telecom and was called up for National Service where he joined the Royal Signals Regiment in Germany.

Ron Collier is an author and historian.

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