ME: in Times Lit Supp

High-altitude bombing

Christopher Timmers, in his review of The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell (In Brief, July 30), tells us that before the Second World War, and unlike Great Britain, “the US favoured high-altitude bombing in daylight”, but that the bombsight that had been developed “failed for a number of reasons”. This didn’t stop the US Air Force from carrying out high-altitude bombing in the war. George Unwin, the Battle of Britain Spitfire ace, and my father were the best of friends before the war, and my wife and I became quite friendly with him in his later life. He once told us that he and a few other Battle of Britain pilots had been invited to an event in a pub which was being organized by a couple of young American women who were making a television programme. The women had asked them if they would recreate a wartime sing-song around the piano, and the pilots had said the only song to which they all knew the words was actually one that was sung by the boys from Bomber Command. The programme-makers said this would be ok and started filming as they sang:

We’re flying bloody Fortresses at 30,000 feet
We fly them in the sunshine but never in the sleet
We’ve lots and lots of gunners and a teeny-weeny bomb
And we drop it from so ruddy high we don’t know where it’s gone.

George said that, for some reason, the song never appeared in the programme.

F. W. Nunneley
Beckley, East Sussex