It was generally believed that once a German night fighter had got on the tail of a Lancaster bomber, the rear gunner had but five seconds to live…
'Finishing School' immerses the reader in the lives of the members of a WWII Lancaster bomber crew in the final stage of their training as they prepare themselves for one of the most dark and dangerous episodes of the war. It deals with the stark technical challenges they had to master – and the accompanying onslaught on their minds – as they prepared to struggle against the odds. It is an intimate, detailed and authentic portrayal of the relationship of a crew and the aircraft that they would take to war.
It is March 1944, and while Bomber Command's campaign of attrition bombing against Germany is at its bloody height, Flight Lieutenant Hugh MacKay is allowed to return to operations after a long interval, having sustained serious injuries in a horrific crash the previous year. His first task; to take command of a sprog crew who have just lost their pilot and to guide these young men through their final stage of training at Lancaster Finishing School. His next task; to bring them through their first operation alive – using every trick in the book, and some that are not – or perish in the attempt.
MacKay, for whom nothing but the operational life now exists, has an outlook as bleak as the war-torn skies over Germany, but the sudden arrival of a woman in his life challenges his simple assumptions. Will fate be the final arbiter as he leads his crew on their first main force operation – the RAF's 'Big Chop' night – the disastrous raid on Nuremberg?
Length: 155 thousand words
What the publishing industry thought…
"…this is stirring stuff: beautifully paced, evocative, even witty, with unusually appealing characters and some absolutely rip-snorting action sequences…"
"…the author's obviously deep knowledge and understanding of the subject matter shines through, and in particular the scenes that take place on the planes are very well described and gripping…"
"…the author really captures what it must have been like to have flown bombers during the war…"
"…brilliant technical detail…"
"…has got a great style…"
A filmmaker's view…
When reading a novel set in the recent past there are, as a documentary film-maker, two things that I demand of it; credibility as to its historical accuracy and the urge to turn the page. This particular book, Finishing School, set in a WWII Lancaster bomber training station and an operational squadron, satisfies on both counts.
I'm of a generation that remembers the atmosphere of the time, and the author has not only captured the authentic spirit of the period but has also transported me back to the way we viewed our enemy across the Channel then; not with the Politically Correct hindsight of today, but with the grim determination of a nation to prevail against seemingly overwhelming odds.
Not only did I engage with the rich cast of dramatis personae in the book but I also learned as much about the bureaucracy of a Lancaster bomber crew's training as I did about their dedication to performing as a team under their charismatic skipper.
The technical research is both impeccable and convincing. Not for one moment did I doubt the accuracy of the incidents described so vividly by the author. I was also taken by the variety and diversity of characterisation of the many individuals we are introduced to.
And did I turn the page? Of course I did!
- File Size: 1812 KB
- Print Length: 520 pages
- Publisher: Caird Publications; 2 edition (January 10, 2014)
- Publication Date: January 10, 2014
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B006LNU8PW
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- X-Ray: Not Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled