Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.
With reviews of books that cover these topics
Buccaneer Boys 2
Air Cdre Graham Pitchfork
Grub Street, July 2021
There is only one surviving pilot from the Battle of Britain, and only one surviving aircrew from 617 Squadron’s famous Dams Raid (in the UK). We are now very aware that first-hand accounts of WW2 escapades are to be treasured. Bucc Boys 2 obviously covers a later period, starting with the Cold War, and culminating in Gulf War 1. Yet the aircrew of this period are also starting to make their final flights, and their testimonies are therefore to be treasured. There is no more poignant reminder of this than the recent death of David Herriot, a Bucc nav, author of his own Grub Street title, contributor to Bucc Boys 1, and this volume too. Herriot was a typical Bucc Boy (in my humble assessment), in that he was a “gentleman with a twinkle in his eye”; perhaps gentlemanly qualities were sometimes left behind, for these two books, like all Boys titles, comprise reminiscences of events that occurred in their (comparative) youth.
A tribute to David Herriot forms a moving opening, whilst the foreword is by Air Marshal Sir Peter Norriss, a relative rarity in the Bucc community in that his exploits did not prevent ascension to air rank. (He is the current president of the Buccaneer Aircrew Association).
Pitchfork sets the scene in chapter one, and gives a good description of the type’s design quirks. In the following chapter Michael Clapp gives a good overview of the problems caused by the asthmatic engine in the Mk 1 Bucc (the Gyron Junior). Andy Marrs describes a hair-raising episode at the Paris Air Show involving a tanking display, hose breaks, and ejector seat malfunction. And the accompanying photo shows him with what appears to be a full mop of ungrey hair! Herriot’s chapter is predictably exciting, but with appropriate Bucc banter. His writing will be missed.
Tom Eeles’ description of a detachment to Stornoway remains a classic of its genre. Nick Berryman’s escape from a lightning strike (the electrical rather than aviating variety) is also good reading, as are Ken Mackenzie’s tales of Norman Crow. Berryman also provides a fruity account of laser-guided bombing trials. Tanking disasters provide the concluding and funny tale, which was far from funny at the time.
So, in conclusion, when one sees a “Volume Two” appearing in a publisher’s schedule, a cynic might assume the said publisher is scraping a (hopefully profitable) barrel. This is far from the case with this book. In years to come readers will be left in no doubt that aircrew were privileged to fly in the Banana Jet, faced at least their fair share of mortal threat (for the RAF and FAA of the time), and lived life to the full. No wonder some look somewhat knackered nowadays!
This writer knows one of the contributors very well, and one or two others to a lesser degree. This review is of course 100% impartial!