About The Book

Under a Bomber’s Moon is the true story of a New Zealand navigator-bomb aimer with the Royal Air Force and a German night fighter pilot as they fight for success and survival over night time Germany during the bitterest years of the Second World War. In early 1944, after completing one tour of operations and winning the Distinguished Flying Cross for his exploits, the New Zealander, Colwyn Jones, was killed during a raid on Berlin.

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About The Night War Over Europe

During the Second World War the night sky over Europe was one of the most lethal places to wage war. By 1945 almost half of the airmen who flew with Bomber Command and a third of the Luftwaffe night fighter crew pitted against them had been killed. Many German cities became moonscapes of rubble, their inhabitants the first to experience the reality of ‘total war’ – itself a glimpse of the destructive potential of the nuclear age about to explode in the Far East.

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5 - A Lucky Enemy EXTRA MATERIAL

WEBSITE GREETING FROM OTTO-HEINRICH FRIES

"It is only understandable that my time as a night fighter in World War II strongly influenced my life after that - on the one hand the  privileged experience of flying in general, and on the other the knowledge of the danger we were exposed to night after night. The love of flying was naturally paramount, the danger was inevitably something we took into account - in the hope the guardian angel would lend a hand - a hope that was clearly not in vain.

My memory of this time is unambiguously positive, despite all the ups and downs I experienced. Obviously I can't imagine how my life today would have turned out without the experience of flying as a night fighter. Possibly I wouldn't be here at all if I had been a soldier fighting the Soviets - but these are pointless musings! Certainly my existence as an airman was privileged compared to an infantryman's in Russia. At the time it was terrible to see virtually every larger city beneath my aircraft in flames, so it's understandable that while I was up there my fury built up to the point it exploded at every opportunity.

Half a century has elapsed since then. The time is a filter that dilutes the bad memories and multiplies the good. Hitler's regime has passed into distant history. I lived through these times, survived and afterwards built a new life - I think a good life! The memories of any time fade with the years, and that's a good thing. Many years ago, at the prompting of my children, I put pen to paper to record a few episodes. I don't know whether I would be up to doing the same today.

Even at the time we didn't hate our enemy, the British bomber crews. We referred to them as "our friends from the other outpost." We knew that they suffered on a nightly basis the same worries and fears we did. But we fought with utmost seriousness against those who destroyed our cities and killed our countrymen.

After the war the RAF took over use of the military airfield at Gatow [western Berlin], and one evening a delegation from the RAF turned up at the Berlin 'Jaegerkreis' [social club for former German military airmen]. The friendship between us developed through reciprocal visits that lasted as long as the British remained at Gatow. This led on to exchange visits across the English Channel. My last visit was two years ago, to Abingdon Airbase, near London.

 I can't imagine a book about World War II becoming a best-seller in Germany. A new generation has grown up with its own worries and problems. For them the war is the past - a bad time that can be struck from their memory - at least if they hadn't experienced it directly. I'm always interested in books about the war, particularly those about the air war I was so much involved in, and which gave me unforgettable experiences - both positive and negative. It's possible, however, that with every passing decade the interest in the war is growing in Germany. It's like some pseudo-mathematical formula by which love grows exponentially with the passage of years. Good luck with the book!"

Berlin-Zehlendorf, August 2009. Translated from German by the author.

Photo shows the wreckage of Fries's ME110 after he was shot down by a Stirling in August 1942.

VIEW INSIDE THE ENEMY'S AIRCRAFT

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