About The Book

Under a Bomber’s Moon is the true story of a New Zealand navigator-bomb aimer with the Royal Air Force and a German night fighter pilot as they fight for success and survival over night time Germany during the bitterest years of the Second World War. In early 1944, after completing one tour of operations and winning the Distinguished Flying Cross for his exploits, the New Zealander, Colwyn Jones, was killed during a raid on Berlin.

READ MORE

About The Night War Over Europe

During the Second World War the night sky over Europe was one of the most lethal places to wage war. By 1945 almost half of the airmen who flew with Bomber Command and a third of the Luftwaffe night fighter crew pitted against them had been killed. Many German cities became moonscapes of rubble, their inhabitants the first to experience the reality of ‘total war’ – itself a glimpse of the destructive potential of the nuclear age about to explode in the Far East.

READ MORE

Book Leads Col Jones's Namesake to Graveside Discovery

Colwyn Lee's father named him after a friend he had known at the Auckland Star but lost during the War - Colwyn Jones. Lee knew almost nothing of this until he came upon Under a Bomber's Moon. In this letter to author Stephen Harris, Lee describes what it was like to learn about the man - and to stand beside his grave in Berlin so many decades after Jones's death.

My name is Colwyn James Lee and I was born in Auckland NZ in March 1945. My family moved to England in 1951 and I grew up in London. In 1965 I joined the RAF on a short service commission as Pilot Aircrew. After a brief military career, of which I am as they say justifiably modest , I borrowed a heap of money and completed commercial pilot training in 1968. For the next 32 years I enjoyed a wonderful career that took me all over the world and then into airline training as an instructor and fleet manager, retiring in 2000.

Stick with me – there is a point to this story.

My parents had come to New Zealand during and just after WW1; my Mother with her 20 year old brother who was dying from mustard gas injuries, and my father as  an 8 year old boy although his family had been in Akaroa since the 1860’s. My Father, Maurice George Lee, was a writer, sometime broadcaster on Maori history and NZ Pacific affairs , and taught English working for the Workers Education Authority. He signed up in 1940 but spent most of the war in Army Education.

At some time in my twenties as I recall I idly asked him how he and my mother had chosen to name me Colwyn. I have always enjoyed having this name, finding that it marked me out as different, giving me confidence and individuality. I have heard of a very few other Colwyns but never met one although I believe some live wild in the Welsh mountains. My Father told me that he had had a good friend called Colwyn Jones who had been a journalist on the Auckland Star. This Colwyn had died in the war and he being the only son of a widowed ( Sic ) mother, his death had left her inconsolable. Finding in 1945 his fifth and last child a boy, he had told her he would name the child after her son – his friend. He did not say if this kind gesture had in fact consoled her.

That was precisely all I was told and no more so when years later I made a half-hearted attempt to find him on the War Graves Commission web site the name Colwyn Jones came up nul. It still does. Recently I tried a little harder and found him on the NZ state register of deaths, finally learning his full name. Buying a copy of his death certificate brought his RNZAF service number and with that his grave from the WGC. The next move was the Forces War Records site where I discovered his DFC , details of his unit and serial number of his Lancaster JB224.Knowing how many nerds there are in aviation I Googled JB224 thinking someone would know of its loss. That came up with underabombersmoon.com and I clicked on that.

You will understand that up until that moment I had assumed I was the only person on Earth looking for my namesake, a man lost and forgotten seventy years ago with no descendants. Imagine Howard Carter opening Tutankhamun’s tomb to find the Egyptology department holding their annual dinner and dance. Foolish or what ?

I am absolutely thrilled to discover his story and I absolutely promise to visit him in Berlin and thank him personally. I might have done it in the late 70’s when I was working out of East Berlin had I known. I have visited the graves of relatives in Ypres and near Vimy Ridge and have been moved to tears at the thought of their loss and ours. I am not related to Col Jones of course but I feel a strong connection to him, the more so for the aviator part, but also being an Auckland boy, and in some sense carrying his name on for him. Well one of his names, and knowing now that that his sisters raised families I imagine there might be others sharing the honour.

So that is the tale and it doubtless signifies more to me than to others. I live now in Derbyshire and Ibiza in peace and comfort thanks to Col and many others like my late Brother-in-law, a Mosquito pilot with 21 Squadron. I know and remember that the world I grew up in was paid for by them and while I do not look backwards or idolise that generation, I am forever interested in that part of history.

I have read your book and, while braced for the sad ending , enjoyed it very much. It is a fine piece of work and your pride in your great uncle shines through it. Thank you.

 

Derby, United Kingdom