617 – Going to war with today’s Dambusters

Words by:
Yusef Sayed
Featured in:
May 2013

Published by Orion, Price £20/ebook
“For my guys to have all this history around them is great… but they’re so busy they don’t have time to either wallow in it or be intimidated by it.” This year sees the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Dambusters raid but it should not be forgotten that 617 Squadron RAF continues to this day, based in Lossiemouth, Scotland. As the above quote from OC Keith Taylor makes clear the new Dambusters must negotiate the complexities of a different type of warfare, as well as the realities of cuts in funding and resources. Tim Bouquet’s latest book tells the story of a new generation of elite flyers following in the footsteps of Guy Gibson and crew, this time in a testing mission to provide close air support to troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The undertakings documented here are perhaps not as compelling as that of the dramatic 1943 operation (though our perception of that is no doubt shaped in part by the movie), but the spirit and skill of the present day 617 Squadron is clear. Bouquet’s journalism takes us into the heart of the squadron, as they travel from the UK to the Middle East, providing a detailed and insightful account of contemporary life in the Air Force and the demands and frustrations that it brings, including the challenges for the engineers who have to keep the Tornados in action. Bouquet’s clear, informative writing places us alongside these brave professionals and will open up reader’s eyes to life in the theatre of war.


After the bitterly cold March just gone the sunshine is exactly what we need at the minute. Still, most of us can fondly recall days out, even in miserable weather, at the coast. Many readers will share writer John Osborne’s nostalgia for childhood holidays by the sea. This is what inspired Osborne to write his latest book, having returned to Scarborough several years after his last visit as a teenager. Spending a year travelling up and down the country, recounting some of the history of each town – including personal stories – and weighing memory against the realities of the present day, Osborne captures the sights, sounds and smells of the UK’s coastal towns with sharp wit and fascination. Osborne devotes chapters to Cleethorpes and Skegness and though he finds little to inspire him in Cleethorpes, warm memories of the musical acts at the Winter Gardens are recalled and the humble origins of the writer of Michael Jackson’s hit ‘Thriller’ suggest it is an unlikely place of musical heritage. Osborne’s visit to Skegness focuses on Billy Butlin’s story and how the resort is continuing today. The sense of discovery that the book conveys makes it better suited to readers who haven’t been drawn to the British seaside for many years, or even at all but it’s a charming read that may inspire globetrotting readers to explore the treasures on their doorstep.


This self-published volume focuses on Sir Charles Henry John Anderson, ninth and last Baronet of Lea, and Sir Henry Hickman Beckett Bacon, Premier Baron and last Lord of the Manor of Gainsborough and marks the 100th anniversary of the sale of the Lea Estate. Beyond being just a simple biography of two fascinating men – both antiquarians who each became High Sheriffs of Lincolnshire – the book includes a concise and pleasantly illustrated history of Gainsborough for historical and contextual support. Whether this is all essential to Childs’s undertaking here or not, it is a handy go-to overview that will delight those interested in the town’s past. The author has diligently researched these two lives and his words passionately remind us of the lost heritage of Gainsborough through planning and development strategies over the years, and the value of recording under recognised local history in detail. Available from The Lindens: Tel. 01427 811348

Lincolnshire Life is pleased to support Richard Kay Publications, whose Life in Lincolnshire series have been popular with yellowbellies for many years. Kay Books started in 1975 as a small family-run bookshop, and was relaunched in November 2007 by Richard Kay’s daughter, Rebecca Elliott, to sell her father’s publications online. Since then the shop has introduced titles from other publishers. Specialising in unique personal histories and books on Lincolnshire dialect, a selection of Richard Kay Publications is now available through the Lincolnshire Shop and we will be reviewing further titles in forthcoming issues of Lincolnshire Life.

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