A Bundu Boy in Bomber Command

Memoirs of a Royal Air Force Lancaster Pilot from Rhodesia
  • Published: July 2003
  • Format: Perfect Bound Softcover(B/W)
  • Pages: 380
  • Size: 6x9
  • ISBN: 9781553958796
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In these memoirs of his early life and wartime RAF service William (Bill) Dives takes us back in time into two different worlds, both now so far away. Pre-war colonial life in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and the perilous existance of a Lancaster pilot during the second world war.
Bill's father held a post as Native Commissioner in the north west of the country. It was in the remote bush, or "bundu", country that Bill was born and from where he and his elder sister were taken by their parents on working safaris hence the "Bundu Boy" in the title. Sadly their father died from cancer while the children were young. Their mother moved to Salisbury to find work.
The carefree, pre-war colonial life of a schoolboy in Southern Rhodesia was brought to an abrupt end as the sirens of war in the Northern Hemisphere summoned the scattered youth around the world to come to the aid of the mother country.
In the spring of 1942 at the age of 18 he was accepted into the RAF in Rhodesia for pilot training. In June 1943, having qualified as a fighter pilot and given the rank of Sgt./Pilot, along with many other Rhodesians that had enlisted with him, he was posted to England. On arrival he was put on a conversion course for multi-engined aircraft. During training he selected his six-man crew and on completion, now a Pilot Officer, was posted to No. 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron partially manned by fellow Rhodesians. From August 1944 to March 1945 Bill and his crew complete thirty-six missions. Following the regular thirty they volunteered for the extra six! Drawing on details from his wartime log books he takes us through these missions that range from the French coast to the Baltic sea and deep into the industrial heartland of Germany. The targets were many and varied including airfields; factories; communication centres; marshalling yards; canals; troop concentration areas and among others included the hazardous exercise of mine laying off the German and Norwegian coasts. After the euphoria of a successful raid would come the fear for the next operation where once again they would be called upon to face a terrifying mixture of flak; night fighters and the inevitable collisions that occurred when hundreds of aircraft were being directed on to the same target area by night. For those with a mathematical turn of mind the odds of survival were frighteningly small. Bill's final mission (the 36th) was a 1000 bomber raid on Essen on the 12th of March 1945 this was a few weeks before his 21st birthday. He had brought home his crew safely home for the last time. Returning to Rhodesia thoughts of those close friends who would never return cast a heavy cloud over what should have been such an exhilarating occasion. There would inevitably be a period of readjustment- but first of all he must learn to drive a motor car!

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