Review of Victory: New Zealand Airmen and the Fall of Germany – Max Lambert

Posted: November 27, 2014 in history, nonfiction, Review, war


New Zealand pilots and aircrew served not only in the RNZAF during World War II but also in the RAF. They took on many roles – fighter pilots, submarine hunters, night bombing and day bombing. The cost in lives was proportionately high, with bomber crews probably suffering the greatest percentage losses until quite late in the war. This is a story of the living and the dead.

The book is a history of the New Zealanders serving in the RAF from D-Day until VE day, although there is a little bracketing either side for narrative continuity. The history moves forward in a roughly chronological order, with separate chapters devoted to each of the major branches within the RAF. Several aircrew continued the war at ground level with local resistance groups after being downed for any one of a number of reasons. Enemy action was not the only cause of lost aircraft or crew. While this structure works on one level, it also involves a degree of chopping and changing, and perhaps the following of each branch to the conclusion separately may have been better.

As this is the third volume in Lambert’s books on New Zealanders in the RAF, the others being Night after Night and Day After Day, there is a lack of examining the motivation as to why New Zealand aircrew were in the RAF and not the RNZAF. This appears to be due to Lambert working as a journalist for over 40 years. There are also no tables indicating the various win-loss ratios, personnel moving through a unit or other data to give a scale to the affair. But these may be the earlier two volumes.

For those who like anecdotal history, this is probably a good volume. However, I like a bit more meat on the bones as it were, and found myself wanting to know more about unit histories, when they were formed, what airframes they progressed through and so forth. Though it is possible this information is found in the preceding volumes. On the plus side there are a number of interesting plates.

If you like your histories more coffee table than substance, this may be your sort of book. However, for me it lacked substance and focus, and could have used a more forceful editor. Perhaps it needs volumes one and two to make sense.

Harper Collins New Zealand

Supplied by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

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