Ocean Bridge: The History of RAF Ferry Command
At the beginning of the Second World War there was no thought of delivering planes by air across the Atlantic. It was assumed to be too costly and too dangerous, especially in winter. Despite this initial reluctance, between the fall of 1940 and the spring of 1945, Royal Air Force Ferry Command's mixed civilian and military crews flew almost ten thousand aircraft, mainly American-built, to operational squadrons overseas. In Ocean Bridge Carl Christie provides the first full account of the genesis, history, and importance of Ferry Command.
From the pioneer transatlantic flights of the interwar period and the early attempts to initiate regular commercial service, Christie traces London's decision to have aircraft, supplies, and passengers delivered across the Atlantic Ocean from Canada and the United States. Under the inspired leadership of a handful of Imperial Airways' captain-navigators, a group of civilian airmen from Britain, Canada, and the United States undertook to fly urgently needed bombers, maritime patrol aircraft, and transports to Europe for the RAF. This informal civilian organization was augmented by graduates of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada and taken over by the RAF as Ferry Command in 1941. Some five hundred aircrew, as well as sixty passengers, lost their lives in accidents; Major Sir Frederick Banting, the discoverer of insulin, was killed in the first fatal crash of the ferry service.
Ocean Bridge chronicles an often overlooked contribution to Allied victory and aviation history. By war's end the ferry service, through its various incarnations, had created the basis for the network of international air routes and procedures that commercial travellers now take for granted.
- Series: Heritage
- World Rights
- Page Count: 458 pages
- Dimensions: 5.5in x 1.5in x 8.8in
'There are scores of stories within the narrative, made vivid through the querying of those who took part. You read about their motives, fears, survivals and casualties...A fascinating special history.'
'This masterly piece of research will surely become the standard reference on the subject.'
'Well bound and printed, with 50 excellent black and white photos, this book will find a ready home on the shelf of anyone interested in military flying.'
The Evening Telegram, St John's Newfoundland
'Christie has mastered a large body of documentation and interviews to write this historical account. Despite the enormous wealth of detail and a cast of thousands, he has managed to produce a clear narrative of interest to anyone who knows how challenging the Atlantic can be.'
The Northern Mariner
'Christie has conducted prodigious research in the British and Canadian archives to unearth this largely forgotten history.'
Col Phillip S. Meilinger
Airpower Journal (Special Edition)
'Christie is to be commended for a fine work which sheds light on an area all too frequently ignored in the history of the Second World War.'
Matthew E. Rodina, Jr.
The International History Review
'This is an excellent book. It tells the story of how a rather unlikely group of unsung heroes who laboured in relative obscurity, and whose exploits have gone largely unrecognized since, managed to deliver more than 11,000 aircraft to operational theatres overseas.'
Carl A. Christie retired as Senior Research Officer of the Department of National Defence's Directorate of History in March 1996. He now lives in Winnipeg, where he teaches military and aviation history to Canadian Forces personnel as an associate professor of the Royal Military College of Canada's War Studies Programme.
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