RAF Regiment at War 1942-45

review by Martin Koenigsberg

The beginning of WWII had revealed that air war was going to be a pivotal part of hostilities. The British RAF felt itself particularly burned by decisions made by the Army that effected their ability to carry out missions and protect their personnel. As 1942 began, they created the RAF Regiment, a force that would provide security and light Anti Aircraft protection for airfields. As the war developed, the force developed into company sized “Squadrons” with 4 numeral designations of three kinds, Rifle- Infantry supported by mortars and Antitank guns, Armoured Car- usually Humber Light Reconnaissance Cars , and Light Anti Aircraft- usually portable Oerlikon or Bofors guns . These served on all fronts where the RAF operated -sometime right at the front line or in very fluid situations where there might not be a front line per se. Kingsley Oliver is a veteran of the force in the Cold War and is the authoritative author on this topic. I got interested in this topic a few years ago – want to shout out the staff of Foyles books on the Charing Cross Road for helping me find it. As one might imagine the North African, Italian, Middle Eastern , Northwest European, and Southeast Asian campaign all provided different challenges. Its fascinating to hear how the Regiment operated in the Western Desert- and how different it was from SOPs in the liberation of Burma, and these are all covered – although I detect room for further study… Oliver flits from one interesting situation to another – and I want to spend a whole book on one front with this corps. This book will be great for the general reader and the enthusiast who wants a quick dip in the pool. There are few adult themes, and no graphic injury passages, so this might be a good read for the Junior Reader over about 11/12 years. For the Gamer/Modeler/Military Enthusiast, this is a pretty fertile ground. The Gamer gets insight into a little understood part of the RAF- with some interesting gear. i immediately thought of a scenario where some infantry and their integrated AT guns, some light AA Guns and few Armoured cars have to hold off a superior force and then escape- which one finds several time in the book. For the Modeler, there are a lot of pics- but I think some added colour sources might be needed. The Military Enthusiast gets a great little history of a previously overlooked corps- one that played a key role in many campaigns for the RAF.

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