By Ray Ollis; Edited by Robert Brokenmouth
Published by Wakefield Press
$29.95 in paperback
ABOUT THE BOOK: The bombing campaign to destroy Hitler’s Nazi Germany was waged by Allied flyers from not only England and the US, but also with many Australian men like Ray Ollis. Flying as a navigator, Ray was assigned to 101 Squadron operating the famed Lancaster bomber, fitted with the latest electronic warfare measures. This book – Ray Ollis’s lightly fictionalised record of his own experiences flying over the heart of Germany at night – provides a gripping account of this critical phase of history.
This book was first published in 1957. In this 2016 edition, editor Robert Brokenmouth discovered that, despite its official status as ‘fiction’, this book had found its way into the collections of several Bomber Command veterans.
As Brokenmouth says, ‘here was a novel written by a veteran unable, at the time, to describe his actual experiences. Fiction allowed Ray Ollis to tell his story in a way that non-fiction would not, could not allow.’
According to Brokenmouth, ‘there are so many things in 101 Nights which are described, as near as my research can tell, very accurately indeed, one is drawn to the conclusion that 101 Nights is less fiction than a sort of ‘fictionalized memoir’.’
What readers of the new edition will find helpful are the extensive notes and glossary which provide important background to many aspects of the book. These notes are intended, I believe, to give readers unfamiliar with the Bomber Command role and activities important information that will enhance their understanding of the story.
I know there will be many readers delighted to know that this long out of print book is available once again.