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

What Became of Them?

This section provides information about people featured in Under a Bomber's Moon, including what happened to those who survived the war. We welcome any new information about featured veterans, including as they pass away.

"They were my close companions many a year,
A portion of my mind and life, as it were,
And now their breathless faces seem to look
Out of some old picture-book;"

W.B.Yeats, from 'In Memory of Major Robert Gregory'

The year in passing: Veterans who died in 2010

What became of Col's friends and crewmates?

The year in passing: Death of two veterans in 2010

Two RAF veterans who feature in Under a Bomber’s Moon, Fred Coney and Al Shoreman, died in 2010.  Coney (94) died on 2 August after more than a year of illness. Shoreman died after a lengthy illness on 18 September, aged 95.  

I first met Coney in October 2007, while visiting Mildenhall to research Col Jones’ wartime experiences at the air base of the same name and nearby Lakenheath. I returned there in May 2008 for the ‘Mildenhall Register’ reunion, at which Coney bustled about as its Secretary, welcoming guests and making sure each had various needs attended to.  On my first visit Coney chatted warmly as we drove to Beck Row Cemetery at St John’s Churchyard, where Col Jones had helped to bury a pilot friend in August 1942. A photo of Coney taken on that visit is on this website’s home page, illustrating the section ‘Reckoning’.  

Born on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, Coney was orphaned at the age of four. He began work at 14 and held a variety of jobs, including as a merchant seaman and a Post Office worker, a reserved occupation, which delayed him from enlisting once war broke out. Eventually he discovered a loophole: he joined the RAF in April 1943 and flew his first operation, against Stuttgart on 15 March 1944, completing a full tour with the same 15 Squadron Lancaster crew in July 1944.  He remained with the RAF until August 1946, married Alma in September and began a civilian career with the Ministry of Civil Aviation based at Heathrow, which he told me had been chosen as England’s main airport after the war in preference to Lakenheath.  

When we met, Coney recounted his experience at dawn on D-Day, 6 June 1944, bombing German coastal guns near Caen and of the awesome sight of thousands of vessels in the approaching invasion fleet. He spoke with affection about a Mildenhall Register reunion many years later at which Air Marshal Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’  Harris - ‘Butch’ to aircrew like Coney - had been guest of honour. Coney showed me photographs of the occasion. Having co-founded the Mildenhall Register in the 1970s, this remained an enduring interest until illness in the past two years ended his close involvement.   When I returned to Mildenhall in May 2008 Fred Coney greeted me like an old friend and introduced me to all and sundry as “young Stephen” which I guess I was to Coney who, at 92 years, was exactly twice my age. (By contrast, I was then twice the age of many aircrew he flew with.) Coney’s descriptions made their experiences seem more real, less remote, and drew a direct line back to my great-uncle’s story. 

Al Shoreman (see photo below) was part of that story, though his ill health meant we never met. Material lent me by Shoreman’s daughter, Jan Burke, showed he and Col flew 17 operations together. Both men wrote of their close-knit crew, skippered by Squadron Leader ‘Jock’ Watt. All three men feature in a photo in Under a Bomber’s Moon, taken when they all flew to a wedding in Shropshire in 1942. Most of this crew flew out to look for Col when another Stirling on which he was crewing ditched in the North Sea on 6 June 1942. This episode is recounted in the book’s second chapter. 

Shoreman served as wireless operator, navigator and air gunner, surviving two tours – but only just: On one op shrapnel from a flak shell ripped out an eye, but Shoreman reinserted the eyeball into its socket and retained his full vision.  He remained in the RAF after the war, serving until age 55. He, wife Gwen and their four children moved several times while in the RAF, including spending time in Cyprus. Gwen died shortly after Shoreman’s 9oth birthday, after which he declined steadily with Alzheimer’s disease.

 Back to top 

These are some of Col Jones’s friends and crewmates. Details of what became of them can be found in the book Under a Bomber’s Moon.


Peter Jarrett, 20, (right), of England.

 



Ian Gordon Harrowby, 21, navigator, of Auckland.

 

 


William George ‘Crasher’ Barnes DFC, 29 (left) and Douggie Baker, both of England.

 


 William Les 'Paddy' Martin, 28, Sergeant, wireless operator/air gunner, of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

 

 


(L-R) Eddie Cowen DFM, F.L. ‘Bill’ Hughes, 21, wireless operator; W. Frederick Leonard ‘Bill’ Orange, air gunner; Jimmy Clough, wireless operator, of England
 

 


Eric Pierce Wynn, 20, Pilot Officer, pilot, of Canada, and D.A. Pebworth (right) of England.




 


Barry Martin, 31, RNZAF, navigator, from Christchurch,

 


Dave Gibb, RNZAF, pilot, of Banks Peninsula, Canterbury.

 

 

 


Charles Lofthouse, OBE, DFC, (centre),  of England.

 

 


Al Shoreman, wireless operator, of England.

 

 

 

Jock Watt, DFM, DFC, pilot, of United Kingdom.

 

 

Back to top