Book: The Mallon Crew
Author: Vic Jay
‘The Mallon Crew’ tells a series of heart-breaking stories that have been unearthed by four years’ research into my dad’s service in the Air Force. He was a Lancaster bomber flight engineer with No. 75 (New Zealand) Squadron, and, when he died at the age of just fifty five, I had nothing to help me but a handful of photographs, his log book and the name of his Kiwi pilot, Bill Mallon. I was not prepared for the discoveries I was about to make.
Paperback - Published in October 2016
The book tells how Bill and my dad, born within a year of each other but over 11,000 miles apart, lived parallel lives until December 1944, when they ‘crewed up’ with five other young men, three from New Zealand and two, like my dad, from England. They all survived the war, but were stricken by more tragedies than it is possible to imagine, and their lives would never be the same again.
Almost as fascinating as the stories themselves is the way in which a modest research project evolved into this extraordinary narrative. It connected me with the families of all but one of my dad’s crew, gave me the opportunity to talk to a man of ninety four, who had flown with my dad, and even uncovered a photograph of the crew flying to their last target.
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This is the Mallon crew on their final war operation, photographed from another No(75) Squadron Lancaster, on the 24th April 1945. The picture is reproduced in Chapter 16 of 'The Mallon Crew', courtesy of E. Ware (New Zealand Bomber Command Association archives)
A readers review:A review by Peggy Stewart: Vic Jay is a stellar writer who has just released this compelling book about his father's service for the RAF in the very bomber you see on the front cover - the legendary Lancaster Bomber. Vic is a thoroughly excellent researcher and writer. I highly recommend this new book to anyone who loves the allure of fabled World War II aircraft and stories about the men who flew them.
A small preview of the book:Chapter 5 Bill took the responsibility of selecting his crew extremely seriously, despite the rather haphazard method that was the accepted practice, as he was well aware that a mistake could have disastrous consequences for them all. Here’s how Bill described the process of ‘crewing up’: "Well, we were thrown in a bunch, bunch of wireless operators over there, bunch of navigators over there and some gunners over there, so you were told to try and make it as self-compatible as you could to form your crew – fairly hit and miss in that sense. We didn’t have time to actually evaluate an individual. You had to form your crew and that was to be it".
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