Airfields of the Eighth Then and Now, by Roger Freeman. Published by Battle of Britain Prints International, Ltd., London. Available to U.S. readers via the worldwide web at www.afterthebattle.mcmail.com. 240 pages. $49.95 hardcover. Add $5 postage and handling.
AIRFIELDS OF THE EIGHTH THEN AND NOW returns to the United States Army Air Force bomber bases that dot the south-east English countryside. From 1942 until the end of the war, the Eighth Air Force conducted precision daylight bombing raids over the Continent, aimed at destroying Germany’s war production. Like the RAF fighter bases that thrived during the battle of Britain, most of the bases of “The Mighty Eighth” have melted slowly back into England’s rural countryside. They survive today as barely recognisable collections of corroded Nissen huts and cracked, overgrown runways. At others, even the runways are gone, having been ploughed up so that the fields could be returned to agricultural use. Perhaps most unusual are those airfields that have been more carefully preserved after being converted to uses wholly unanticipated by their original builders, such as race tracks. A small number still operate as civil airfields.
Airfields of the Eighth presents a moody portrait of the fading memories and vanishing relics of the largest air army ever assembled. Veterans of the Eighth owe the publishers an enormous debt of gratitude for capturing their glory days in print and taking them back “home” one more time, before the last vestiges of these airfields are eradicated forever.