Stop the press! The first readers’ comments about Bombing and Coastal Operations are already coming in from those receiving early copies. The first review comes from one of my sterner critics, Hugh A. Halliday. Hugh is a historian and noted author retired from the Canadian War Museum and a frequent, much appreciated, CANAV collaborator.
Hugh has posted these comments about the book on the busy internet forum rafcommands. Of note he writes (to my approval) that what the book may lack by way of a consistent narrative, “it makes up in anecdotes and insights from documents, personal recollections, contemporary letters and the contents of trunks and scrapbooks.”
Commenting about my coverage of Laird Jenning’s unique wartime career, Hugh finds that certain excerpts “make amusing and provocative reading, and some pointed remarks have relevance today”, then he generalizes how “There is plenty of drama, heroism and tragedy here (the reports of ‘sole survivors’ of downed bombers are striking). Larry does not skimp on indexes, paper quality, photo captions and clarity of reproduction.” Also commenting in advance of our official book launch this Saturday (October 8), RCAF history aficionado and aviation bibliophile, Ian Macdonald, observes, “Your new format with much larger pictures really is excellent … a wonderful addition to Canadian history.”
On October 18 one of the family members e-mailed about the coverage of her uncle as given in Bombing and Coastal Operations:
“Just wanted to let you know that the book arrived and I must say it’s absolutely gorgeous. I’ve really been enjoying reading all about the pilots, their crews, their missions. Most engaging! And the photographs! My goodness! The way you’ve designed the book really brings these stories to life. You do the airmen a great honour. If my Dad was here he’d be so pleased; he’d be pouring out the compliments to you. I know he really enjoyed the interview he shared with you and he would have really been touched by your telling of his brother’s story. I want to thank you so very much for all your dedication to the preservation of aviation history. As you say, so many stories would otherwise be slipping away with the passing of the old guard. For me, whenever I pick up the book and other books like it, it’s kind of like being near to my Dad again, which brings great comfort and keeps his memory alive and close to my heart. Thanks again, for documenting such a moving historical legacy.”
And now, back to “Turn-Around” … In August 2010 we posted “All in a Week’s Work” covering CANAV’s visit to Friesen’s in Manitoba for the printing of Aviation in Canada: Evolution of an Air Force. Well, we didn’t rest a minute since then, and here is my report about this year’s pilgrimage to Manitoba to print Bombing and Coastal Operations. Here we go …
Normally, CANAV does not run freebee adverts. WestJet gets the very first one. Here we are on the way in from YYZ with beautiful downtown Winnipeg below. Always a fun sight!
September 18 and off I go again to sunny and always surprising Manitoba. WestJet did the job just beautifully. I sure find their website more user friendly than Air Canada’s, but to each their own, right. WestJet gets this plug, but not that it, Air Canada, etc. ever order a book from CANAV. Gotta really love the airlines for their support of Canada’s aviation heritage.
Norsemans LZO and BSB are long-time residents at Selkirk.
Alamo had my car ready at YWG and, better still, a very nice upgrade, so off to Selkirk on the usual country drive to see what’s new at Bob Polinuk’s float base and airstrip. Scads of airplanes as always, but not a soul anywhere, not a prop turning on a decent fall day for flying.
I wandered around snapping a couple of Norsemans, a Beaver, Beech 18, Luscombe, turbo Otter, etc. Then it was on to Lac du Bonnet. An easy drive as usual, but little on the aviation side at the end of the road– one MGAS turbo Otter guarded by a big, taciturn bald eagle.
"Taciturn" the raptor apparently scares away nesting and pooping birds.
Some of the fascinating historic vessels on display at Selkirk's marine museum.
It was a good day altogether, especially my stop at the Selkirk marine museum. Don’t miss it next time you’re in Manitoba.
Welcome to Altona, Canada's Sunflower Capital
Now it was time to get serious — go to Altona, old boy. So off I headed on a course of 1-8-0 pretty well and before long … Altona, that idyllic Southern Manitoba home of sunflowers to the horizon … and of Friesens, my printer for many a year. But there was quite the difference since 2010 — something like 65 massive windmills were churning away between Manitoba 75 and 30, the route into Altona. Last year these were just holes in the ground, but now … yikes! You have to see these monsters to believe them, then you really have to scratch your head.
Altona is traditionally the home of sunflowers and Friesens. But ... Kowabunga! Now you have to add windmills (for better or worse).
Why is a province with a super-abundance of hydro power doing this to formerly beautiful, peaceful farmscape? Oh, well … what can one say or do about politicians and “green” hucksters? I toured around a bit, took a few pix, then settled in at the Altona Motor Inn. A fine meal was had at Bravo’s then, early next morning, it was breakfast at the Four Winds — the place for a good meal to get your wheels turning for the rest of the day. After checking in early at Friesens, I headed over to Winkler to see what was doing at Arty’s Air Service. By this time of year, the flying is fairly quiet, just a few final runs over the extensive local potato fields. Arty still had his three Air Tractor AT-402s from last year, but had added a new ‘502. His Weatherlys are long gone, but I was surprised to hear that there’s still a market for these weary old P&W-985-powered ag planes.
One of Arty's impressive AT-402s in between missions -- mainly spraying potato fields.)
Arty's Weatherly 201 C-GBWC over Winkler cornfields in July 2007. Long live the thundering, oil-dripping P&W R-985!
Arty had sold his off here and there to smaller operators from Manitoba to Mexico who could still make a go with them. Took a few photos and shot the breeze a bit with some of Arty’s excellent people. Found out that a couple of the pilots now work in Australia during Manitoba off season, so were gearing up to head down again to fly Dromaders. The pay’s less, but the flying’s always good.
Heading back to Altona for my appointment with the pressman, I spotted a potato sorting operation outside Winkler. This was too good to pass up, so I peeled off to grab a few pix. Trucks were coming in from the fields each with 15 tons of potatoes. The spuds were being fed onto a conveyor that split left into a truck for waste, and right for potatoes.
A Friesen-MacDonald truck feeds a fresh load of potatoes into the sorting system set up along Hwy 14 near Winkler.
You wouldn’t believe it but two good ladies were standing either side of the
conveyor and sorting all those tons of potatoes. Their hands flew as they spotted duds and tossed them onto the tarmac. The rest continued into a 30-ton trailer. Quick as could be, I was back on Hwy 14 for Altona for 1100.
Pressman Dennis Penner pulls a sheet off his press...
...then checks the results, ensuring that inking stays consistent, etc.
The pressman's set-up for checking the dust jacket before that press rolls.
It was a slow start with a balky press — no big surprise in printing. At noon Mike Fehr and Jody Penner of Friesens treated me to a nutritious lunch at Altona’s best burger joint. Then I took a few minutes to walk Altona’s cemetery to see if Peter Engbrecht might be lying there. Peter had been a Bomber Command gunner ace from Boissevain, Manitoba. As I was almost finished my survey, Mike Fehr called to say that Peter was actually in Boissevain. How did he know this? He had called Peter’s widow, Ramona, who was still in Altona, and we had an appointment to see her. That proved to be just a super visit. Peter had remained in the postwar RCAF, then retired in Altona. All this was a bit amazing, as Peter is written up in my very book that was on press today!
The names of two RCAF Altona boys are engraved on the town memorial. Age 21, Joseph Krause died with five of his 7 Squadron mates when their Stirling went down over France the night of August 25, 1942. In 1941 Krause and crew had been forced down in Spain. He only recently had returned to operations following a year's internment. He is buried in Secheval, France. Age 28, Herman Stephen Schellenberg was a navigator with 418 Squadron. On November 21, 1943 he and his pilot, F/O Thomas Thomson (age 25 from Vancouver), were on a night training flight when their Mosquito crashed in Sussex. They are buried in Woking, Surrey.
I finally knocked it off early in the evening and headed back over the Bravo’s, after checking half or so of the forms going on press. It all looked good to me, so back to the inn it was. The pressman never called, so his snags must have
been cleared and he got his mighty KBA Rapida 130 churning smoothly.
Up at 0500 and on the road in the blackness and a heavy rain. Up Hwy 30 and east to 75 midst the eeriness of the windmills, whose presence was announced by a line of unseemly flashing red lights. Just weird and maybe a good advertisement for not necessarily having windmills in an electricity-swamped province.
It sure was a relief to gradually get some light, Hwy 75 being “under construction” (as it seems perpetually to be) and find YWG. Back I winged on a nifty WestJet 737-700. I was on the ground again by noon at YYZ, then home to start hammering away again on the hundred and one things that CANAV Books does to make its so-called living. Books were promised for delivery on Monday, October 3, but Friesen made up some time and they arrived at TTS in Aurora the previous Friday. Good going as usual, Friesens! And the final product looks just super, so if you’re a fan of RCAF history, you’ll totally enjoy a copy!
Click here to order your autographed copy of Aviation in Canada: Bombing and Coastal Operations Overseas 1939-1945.
Friesens publishers' Hall of Fame, always a fun display to check out when in the plant. CANAV's 2010 book is front and centre this year, along with such other renowned (no doubt million-sellers) as "Sex, Lies and Pharmaceuticals" and "Bad Girls". What the heck, they all look great, right (this will sure burn the nincompoops who keep babbling mindlessly about the book being dead)!
The Readers Are Getting into It … The Latest “Bombing and Coastal” Commentary
For any book publisher reviews are part of the business. On the whole, however, the book reviewing trade has been sliding for years. While the daily press used the revere its full-time and professional book editors, today many dailies have pitifully watered down this important arts feature.
Book editors/reviewers are more than ever inclined towards fiction, so that makes it harder than ever to get any Canadian history book noticed. Right off the top, Canadian dailies are almost guaranteed these days to ignore anything to do with an aviation book. Apparently, this is drab, démodé stuff. But give them something in the line of fiction — some easy reading, nothing to tax the brain — then you might catch their eye. Or maybe a nice shallow cook book or some Hollywood starlet’s latest sexercise book, or something really intellectual, maybe about ultimate fighting or hockey violence. Above all, give them something out of New York vs any hopeless Canadian effort, right! This said, there always will be serious reviewers seriously reading serious books. The smaller Canadian dailies and weeklies seem to attract this sharper type of book critics. These fine citizens are rarely arrogant the way our “supporters” in the mainstream press tend to be.
CANAV has had a few hundred solid reviews over 30 years, and only the one dud, that from Aeroplane Monthly by some poor sod who does not appear to have done any serious history or arts studies.
Many fine comments have already reached CANAV about Aviation in Canada: Bombing and Coastal Operations Overs 1939-1945. On the whole people are getting the big picture — this is a good book. Roger Lindsay in the UK submits the comments below — his first impressions. Roger knows a bit about books, having toiled at serious research and writing for decades. His publications about such aircraft as the Javelin, Lightning and Venom are classics. His latest — Cold War Shield — is simply magnificent. Here is Roger’s take on Bombing and Coastal Operations:
Hi Larry … your new “Bombing and Coastal Operations Overseas” arrived today by post. I’ve spent the best part of a day drooling over the photos and absorbing the personal recollections covering so many of your courageous countrymen who served in the RCAF. The book is magnificent and already a total joy, a stellar production. As usual I’m in awe at the detail, the exceptionally high standards of layout, design and printing, and can only imagine the effort expended in putting it together.
I feel that we Brits owe a huge debt to the thousands of Canadians who came across to our side in the last war, not least those who served in Bomber Command at such great sacrifice. Your book brings that terrific contribution into focus with more impact than many other publications.
I’m also greatly enjoying your Coastal Command coverage, which never receives the publicity it warrants. You’ve found some super photographs, almost entirely new to me, and I suspect most readers.
Finally, I must congratulate CANAV Books on achieving 30 years of fabulous top quality publishing, in spite of all the problems. I hope the book sells in truck-loads and brings in a small fortune!
What great stuff, Roger. This worn-out old publisher is grateful.
Another note comes from Ron Butcher, who served his tour on Lancasters with 408 Squadron. I cover a bit about his crew on pp 133-34. Ron requests an amendment ref. p.133. In the centre column he has asked that I add how his crew completed two operations on D-Day. Then, he correctly raps my knuckles for saying that his crew completed their tour February 20, when the date should be June 11. Somehow the odd such gaff creeps into every such book, to say nothing of ordinary typos which always evade the proof readers. We spot them in the highest quality books and everyone understands how those nasty little cockroaches creep in. Ron notes some of these, which I’ll add to the errata list and send to my readers at the next mailing. I’ve asked Ron to join my cadre of intrepid proof readers. One can never have too many eyes checking manuscript and galleys.
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Posted in Aviation history, Aviation in Canada, Bomber Command, Centennial of Flight, RCAF, Reader comments, Reviews