To War in a Stringbag: Book Review

To Battle in a Stringbag  by Commander Charles Lamb, Royal Navy, DSC, DSO

To Battle in a Stringbag is the extraordinary autobiography of a unprecedented naval aviator, Commander Charles Lamb, who skilled fight from the primary days of World Battle II till the ultimate levels of the Pacific marketing campaign. “Stringbag” was the nickname of the legendary Fairey Swordfish, a seemingly out of date biplane that was chargeable for destroying a higher tonnage of enemy delivery than some other torpedo bomber through the struggle, and which Lamb flew into fight for greater than two years.

Lamb recounts exploits which can be nothing in need of jaw-dropping. Flying an airplane that seemed higher suited to World Battle I, he participated in sufficient fight to have killed off half a dozen fliers. After his first service, HMS Brave, was sunk by U-29 on September 17, 1939, he flew his Swordfish from land bases, sowing mines off the German coast and attacking E-boats off Dunkirk. Transferred to the brand new service Illustrious, Lamb then started operations within the Mediterranean, together with serving as a pathfinder pilot through the well-known assault on the Italian fleet at Taranto on November 11, 1940. After surviving repeated air assaults on Illustrious, which almost destroyed the ship and killed a lot of his associates, Lamb continued flying fight missions out of land bases in Malta, Greece, Albania, Crete and Egypt. On one event through the Greek marketing campaign, he managed to destroy two Italian fighters by outmaneuvering them and inflicting them to collide with one another, a victory of pure airmanship of which he was justly proud, and which he insisted might solely have been completed within the unimaginable Swordfish.

After crashing whereas delivering a undercover agent into Algeria in a nighttime flight, Lamb spent greater than a yr in Vichy French POW camps—an expertise he discovered each bit as disagreeable as it could have been underneath the Germans, and presumably worse. Launched late in 1942 after the Allies invaded North Africa, he was promoted to assistant flight officer on the brand new carriers Implacable and Indefatigable, collaborating within the assaults on the German battleship Tirpitz in Norway, and in operations towards the Japanese within the Indian and Pacific oceans. In July 1945, simply earlier than the struggle ended, Lamb was struck by a shattered propeller blade on the flight deck, struggling accidents that hospitalized him for the following two years.

To Battle in a Stringbag is written in a wry, humorous model that appears characteristically British. The surprise isn’t that Lamb managed to write down such an interesting and entertaining guide, however that he survived the struggle in any respect. It’s clear he didn’t write his memoir to have a good time his personal achievements; quite, he sought to memorialize the companions with whom he had served, a lot of whom didn’t dwell to inform their tales. To that finish, To Battle in a Stringbag stays a basic account of the Fleet Air Arm actions all through the battle.


Initially printed within the September 2013 concern of Aviation Historical past. To subscribe, click on right here.


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