27 MARCH 1942, Page 18

Fruits of Appeasement

The Royal Air Force in the World War. Vol. I. By Captain Norman Macmillan. (Harrap. los. 6d.)

THIS, the first volume of a series, covers the history of the R.A.F. from 1919 to the beginning of June, r94o, when our expeditionary force was evacuated from Norway. It is a compe- tent and useful record of the chief events affecting the R.A.F. during the twenty years preceding the outbreak of the present war and the nine rather unsatisfactory months which followed the outbreak. There is plenty of human interest in these pages, to enliven the recital of facts, and there are some good illustrations. Captain Macmillan points out that our bombing policy in the " anachronistic opening phase " of the war was more restrictive than the rules drafted at The Hague in 1923 would have allowed. Under these rules the bombing of military targets, wherever situated, was legitimate, but we refrained from attacking such targets on land, the enemy fleet being our bombers' sole objective. Incidentally, he refers to the rules as an unratified convention, which implies that a convention was agreed and signed. The rules never reached that stage ; they have remained only a jurists' draft. There nre chapters on the work of the Bomber. Fighter and Coastal Commands during the early months of the war, followed by one dealing with the operations of the Ail Component of the B.E.F., and those of the Advanced Air Strik- ing Force in France. The four concluding chapters are devoted to the air operations in Norway. The tragic but immortal story of No. 223 Squadron is tol here once more. It was this squadron which, equipped with obsolete Gladiators, and 'ender the command of Squadron Leader J. W. Donaldson, who won the D.S.O., fought the German raiders all day long from its bomb-shattered base on the frozen surface of Lake Lesja. At the close of the day the unit had bed' practically wiped out. Its Gladiators were slower than the Junkers 88's, and could not climb to as great a height as tile Heinkel nes. Yet it shot down six enemy aircraft on that day and probably eight more. Afterwards the squadron, reformed,. operated from Bodo, and at a later date No. 46, with hurricane', was dispatched to Bardufoss. Both squadrons did superhuman work, and the Blenheims, Wellingtons and Hudsons which operated from home bases played a splendid part, too, in rh,e fighting in Norway, against hopeless odds. Captain Macmillan! verdict is this :

"In Norway the Allies first felt the effect of superior air Poles'

. . . It was seldom that the Royal Air Force could muster more than a hundred aircraft all told for counter-action to the thousand which the Germans employed in Norway. All the brilliant courage of the pilots and crews of the Royal Air Force could not overcome the tremendous handicap imposed upon their Service by a generation whose supine folly was a vain hope of preserving peace without adequate arms in a fast-rearming world." J. M. SPAIGHT.