The Crew: the story of a Lancaster bomber crew


David Price


Head of Zeus


Ray Staley


448 pages, 9781789542707. Hardback or Kindle

Most of us have read histories of the RAF bombing campaign. But most, such as excellent “Bomber Command” Max Hastings, focus of the big events and “big picture”. 

“The Crew: The Story of a Lancaster Bomber Crew,” by David Price takes a different approach as it concentrates one average crew struggling through their training to their gruelling 13 months tour on a Pathfinder Squadron in 1943/44. It talks about their experiences on different raids, the fate of other RAF/Luftwaffe crews and even the fate of their favourite Lancaster and other squadron aircraft. We hear about inter squadron rivalry, the attitude of the old hands to new crews and coping with losses. 

The book also deals with the psychology of the crews, some got along well, others ejected members that they felt did not fit in whilst a small majority became “war lovers” addicted to fear and adrenalin. Much has been written about Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC and the book covers his death in some detail based on the first-hand account of one of the crew featured in the book who served with him. Between time chapters cover the development of area bombing and the Avro Lancaster etc. It talks about the development of the bomb sights and the shortcomings of the Norden bombsight. 

Until I read this book I did not appreciate how many Lancaster’s were lost in air to air collisions, that pathfinder crews would circle the target for long periods during a raid and often made repeated runs over the target to re-mark the drop zone or that the Mosquito pathfinders literally dropped their markers at roof top level. 

The book ends by following the post war civilian and military carriers of several of the crew and also shows how the responsibility of releasing the bombs moved from the bomb aimer to the navigator. 

I enjoyed this different and interesting approach. 

Ray Staley

August 2020


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