SPIES IN THE SKY is the thrilling, little known story of the partner organisation to the famous code breaking centre at Bletchley Park It is the story of the daring reconnaissance pilots who took aerial photographs over Occupied Europe during the most dangerous days of the Second World War, and of the photo interpreters who invented a completely new science to analyse those pictures They were inventive and ingenious they pioneered the development of D photography and their work provided vital intelligence throughout the war With a whole host of colourful characters at its heart, from the legendary pilot Adrian Warby Warburton, who went missing while on a mission, to photo interpreters Glyn Daniel, later a famous television personality, and Winston Churchill s daughter, Sarah, SPIES IN THE SKY is compelling reading and the first full account of the story of aerial photography and the intelligence gleaned from it in nearly fifty years Covered all the flying reconnaisance with excellence, great detail regarding photo interpretation, borrowed a liitle too much from other sources such as RV Jones Secret War. I have, for some time, fancied myself as a bit of an expert on things military in general and the 1939 45 air war in particular Photo reconnaissance is a favourite subject as I once knew a quiet and unassuming man who had flown the PR Spitfires operationally Nothing new for me in this book then Au contraire Brilliant read, well written, excellent research, good plates and masses of information that was new to me Book finished in two days An excellent page turner which tells the story and tells it well Amongst all this great stuff, a few things stand out.Firstly, the extreme contrast between the British and German PR and PI organisation somewhat mirrors the similar situation between their respective spy organisations human intelligence After wobbly starts, the Brits took both disciplines and raised them to heights of professionalism and effectiveness that beggar belief The Germans simply failed at both The PR and PI organisation produced consistent results that would have been beyond the wildest dreams of both military and political leaders at the beginning of the war The stories of the characters who made this happen reads like a W E Johns book than an Ian Fleming.Secondly, I was struck by the first stirrings of gender equality within the organisation The author does focus on this aspect, so it s not just a sub text, but it is nonetheless fascinating and I can t help thinking that the end of the war stifled what we now take for granted for about the next thirty years.Thirdly, one can t help thinking that the end of the war came as almost a disappointment to the men and women involved in the PR but then I am an aeroplane anorak and this author isn t I ll just have to wait for the definitive Osprey book on PR Spitfires and Mosquitos. An excellent book, well worth reading Its a shame though, and somewhat ironic, that the photographic illustrations are printed on the same paper as the text not the better quality white paper that book illustrations are usually printed on , thus rendering them inferior and hard to see any detail in.It would have been nice if the publishers had been prepared to make the effort and increase their overheads just a little so that readers might actually be able to appreciate the very images the book is concerned with telling the story of. Well, quite enexpectedly this turned out to be a real page turner Putting aside the fact that the chapters do not follow a logical sequence, they don t really have to in fact, this is a good factual read and a real eye opener about the internal struggles between the Military Forces, the pompous Victorian attitudes towards new thinking and the incredible work done by the operatives, sometimes in extreme conditions and with little or no appreciation.I couldn t put this book down, absolutely fascinating Perhaps better interpretation of some of the photos would have made sense so that we could actually see the fine detail, we have seen some of these photos before but not the up close detail Going on now to read further books in this field.
- Spies In The Sky: The Secret Battle for Aerial Intelligence during World War II
- Taylor Downing
- 14 May 2017 Taylor Downing