Flight Lieutenant Joseph Thompson, aka ‘Mac’, left his mother’s small Birmingham home in December 1943 at the age of 18 to join the wartime RAF.
Letters from a Lancaster Gunner follows his journey through the hardship and adventure of basic and gunnery training, a love affair with a girl from Liverpool, crew friendships, losses and disasters, over twenty Lancaster bombing raids, a virgin mission, which ends in a ‘ditching’ in the North Sea, and a post-war stint in Singapore. Joe’s original letters and his mother’s replies are the narrators of this story, which begins and ends with the events surrounding their re-discovery some 65 years after they were written. The wartime experiences of the family Joe left behind also unfold. A mother, widowed in 1941, struggling to cope physically, financially and emotionally with four children during wartime, while working full time in a factory. There is much love, detail and hardship in these letters, which ultimately end with heartbreak that could not have been foreseen.
This book of the real and private correspondence of a Birmingham working-class teenager who joined the RAF during wartime includes many previously unpublished and very rare photographs.