An online database
of WORLD WAR II
books and information
on the Web since 1995
New & forthcoming
Books by subjects
Caldwell, Donald. The JG 26 War Diary, volume one: 1939-1942. London: Grub Street, 1996.
Preface; Acknowledgements; maps; photos; glossary; sources; bibliography; index.
Appendices: JG Organization and Strength 1939-1942; JG 26 Commanders 1936-1942; JG 26 Bases 1936-1942.
Donald Caldwell, having already written two books about Jagdgeschwader 26 (JG 26: Top Guns of the Luftwaffe and JG 26: A Photographic History of the Luftwaffe's Top Guns), has produced a third title about the same Luftwaffe fighter wing. This is his best one yet.
"The Abbeville Kids" (as they were known) served the entire war on the Western front: along the Rhine in 1939 and moving to the English Channel coast after the fall of France. From bases there the geschwader participated in the Battle of Britain and later took part in the evolving offensive and defensive campaigns of fighter sweeps, intrusions, and interceptions, commanded from August 1940 through December 1941 by Adolf Galland. A separate chapter covers the operations of the 7th Staffel while detached to the Med from February through September 1941. Overall, this volume carries the action through the end of 1942.
It is, as the title states, very much a war diary and the material is organized in the form of daily entries. For each day there is a narrative account of the air action (longer or shorter, depending on how much occurred on that date) and -- depending on the intensity of action -- after every few days there is a table summarizing JG 26 victory claims and casualties for the period. These are very precise and detailed with date, rank, name, unit, and claim number for the Luftwaffe pilot, place and time of day, enemy aircraft model and its squadron (where known), and a notation on whether or not the victory has since been confirmed. German casualty tables are similarly data-intensive. Separate tables provide a summary of Fighter Command offensive missions, Luftwaffe claims and losses, and RAF claims and losses. Scattered throughout the chapters are quotes and recollections from participants, photos, and other supporting material. The entry for 19 August 1942 for example (the Dieppe landings), includes an additional six pages of chronological description of the air battle. A similar account is provided for the air operations triggered by the Channel Dash of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.
Other daily entries, while shorter, are equally interesting.
The 8th Staffel's Uffz. Hermann Melzer was killed when the Bf 109F-2 he was ferrying to the unit crashed on take-off from Warnemunde.
That evening Rudolf Hess, Germany's Deputy Fuehrer, flew a Bf 110 from Augsburg to Scotland in a muddled attempt to secure a negotiated peace with Britain. Obstlt. Galland was amazed to receive a call from Reichsmarschall Goering's office ordering him to intercept and shoot down the "madman" Hess's aircraft. Galland sent up two aircraft, but they failed to make contact in the growing darkness.
Caldwell reports that only two of the unit's thirty volumes of official diaries survived the war, so he has done an immense amount of research work in surviving documents, in Allied records, and with collections of personal materials, memories, and photos made available to him by JG 26 veterans.
Excellent information well presented, and a very handsome, well-done production job. Aviation enthusiasts should not miss this book. The author promises the second and final volume of the War Diary in 1998. I'm looking forward to it.
Available from mail order booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from Grub Street and its American distributor, Seven Hills.
Thanks to Seven Hills Books Distribution for providing this review copy.
Reviewed 29 January 1997
|We don't buy, stock, publish, or sell books or anything else.
NEWS BOOKS AUTHORS PUBLISHERS SELF-PUBLISHERS BOOKSELLERS.
|email@example.com||Copyright © 1995-2013 Bill Stone|