In 1962 Michael Cumming's account of the extraordinary story of one of the RAF's most notable Second World War bomber pilots, Alec Cranswick DSO, DFC, came to the attention of the public with the release of Pathfinder Cranswick. Since then the biography of this remarkable man has, quite rightly, achieved classic status.
Alec Cranswick volunteered for the Royal Air Force in 1939 and went on to earn the distinction of having flown, as a bomber pilot, the largest number of operations during the Second World War. Sorties against enemy targets began in June 1940, and he completed a tour flying Wellington bombers prior to volunteering for service in the Middle East. He returned to Europe in 1942 with a Distinguished Flying Cross to his name and after a brief spell with No. 419 (Moose) Squadron he volunteered to lead the way for Bomber Command as part of the fledgling Pathfinders, serving with No. 35 Squadron. Upon completion of his third tour he was then rested, but returned to operational duties, for a fourth tour, in April 1944. Tragically, piloting a Lancaster bomber on his 107th bombing operation, Squadron Leader Alec Cranswick failed to return on the night of 4/5 July 1944. Bomber Command had lost an airman described by Pathfinder Force Commander Air Vice-Marshal Donald Bennett, as `so simply courageous and so selfless in sacrifice.'
Michael Cumming's original work, based on family archives, official records, and interviews with those who knew Cranswick, has been extended and updated with new material and previously unpublished photographs. Fighting High presents the 50th anniversary edition of Pathfinder Cranswick, as an ongoing tribute to one of the Royal Air Force's most distinguished and accomplished pilots.
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A career journalist, Michael Cumming retired having worked on weekly, evening and daily newspapers and in public relations, latterly editing house journals for international companies. In the RAF from 1945 to 1948, he was with No. 305 Squadron in Germany, at No. 1 Group HQ and with the Air Ministry Servicing Development Unit. He was the first journalist to fly with the RAF aerobatic team, the Black Arrows, in a two-seat Meteor leading the display. All five previous books cover aviation aspects of the Second World War.Review:
'Pathfinder Cranswick is the most stunning hardback I have had the pleasure to hold in my hands. High quality for a top piece of writing.' (Aircrew Book Review) 'Comprehensive account of a pilot renowned throughout Bomber Command' (Britain at War Magazine, August 2012) 'Fighting High has once more brought the story of one of the RAF's most distinguished and accomplished bomber pilots to the forefront ... an ongoing tribute on the 50th anniversary of a classic aviation read.' (Aeroplane Monthly - Book of the Month, November 2012)
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