Above the Battle – An AOP pilot’s WW2 experiences

munro_1When we think of aviation during the Second World War, we usually conjure up visions of fast fighters streaking across the sky, clouds of bombers releasing their deadly load or masses of lumbering transports dropping paratroopers. And we tend to forget the other, essential, tasks played by other branches, flying less glamorous looking craft.

One of those branches was (or is) the AOP or Air Observation Post that guided and controlled the artillery. In the words of Field-Marshall Bernard Montgomery: “The contribution of the artillery to the success of our operations can hardly be overstated!” But to provide effective support for infantry and cavalry, the artillery has to “see” their targets. And that’s where the AOP comes in.

This book – one of the two in existence about this subject – proved to be a fascinating read. The AOP pilots had to be expert “gunners” first – and excellent pilots second. They also had to be incurable rule-breakers as most of their flying took place under circumstances and at altitudes that would have crisped the hair of a RAF Wing-Commander. Operating from small, makeshift fields, they flew small, fragile Austers that would do all of 118 mph going flat out. Directing the fire of literally hundreds of artillery pieces while flying behind the enemy lines, there was a real risk of being hit by a “friendly” shell. They had to keep an extra eye open for enemy fighters that could come at them at 250 mph. Reaction and evasion had to be instinctive, hesitation would be fatal.

munro_2The book is an account of Captain Lyell Munro’s wartime experiences and takes the reader through his training and then on, from the beaches of Normandy all the way through Holland to the final death-throes of Nazi Germany around Hamburg. It is easy to read and very well illustrated.

Munro had completed a first draft in 1990 but the publishers wanted a more substantial work. Unfortunately, Munro died in 2002 so he never saw this version, completed by his children and his nephew, Squadron Leader Alan Munro RAF (Retd).

I highly recommend this book to all of you who are interested in the more unusual aspects of wartime flying as well as the personal feeling of those at the sharp end of the sword.

“Above the Battle”
Ronald Lyell Munro
Pen & Sword Books Ltd. 2016
ISBN 978 1 47387 275 2

About Kingsleyr

Thank you for visiting my blog! The posts you find here are a direct result of my research into aviation and military history. I use the information I gather as a foundation and background for my books. You may call the genre historical fiction, a story woven into a background of solid and verifiable historical facts. However, the period and region I have chosen to write about (late 1930's - 1950's in South-East Asia) are jam-packed with interesting information and anecdotes. If I'd used them all I would swamp the stories. So this blog is the next best thing. It is an "overflow area" in which I can publish whatever I think will interest you. And from the reactions I get, I deduce I am on the right track. A lot will be about aviation in the former Dutch East Indies. This, because my series of books ("The Java Gold") follows a young Dutch pilot in his struggle to survive the Pacific War and its aftermath. But there's more in the world and you'll find descriptions of cities, naval operations and what not published on this blog. Something about myself; I am a Dutch-Canadian author, living in, and working out of the magical city of Amsterdam. My lifelong interest in history and aviation, especially WW2, has led me to write articles and books on these subjects. I hope you'll enjoy them!
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2 Responses to Above the Battle – An AOP pilot’s WW2 experiences

  1. apple says:

    Amazing blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring
    writers? I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a
    little lost on everything. Would you advise starting with
    a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so
    many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed ..

    Any suggestions? Kudos!


    • Kingsleyr says:

      WordPress is fine for someone who starts writing a blog. Other platforms are nice of you want to go commercial. Start with short, easy posts. Posting pictures requires some practice – I have a separate picture file from which can draw. First adjust to size and alignment before you enter captions. Go easy on the categories, you soon have too many. But go all out on the tags, they will bring in your readers. There are free keyword generating sites that can help you find the right keywords to insert in your tags.
      Good luck.


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