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.

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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.

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About UNDER A BOMBER'S MOON

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. An accomplished journalist, he left a detailed diary and a rich collection of letters home. Extensive extracts from these are included in this book. 

The German pilot, Otto-Heinrich Fries, survived and now, nearing the end of his life, reflects at length to the author on what it meant to fly in defence of the Fatherland, yet to inherit a country reduced to ashes by the Allies. And what of that legacy? What scars does Germany still bear from its defeat, and why do most Germans today still regard even those who fought a defensive war as an historical liability?

As Harris explores in depth the motivations of the two highly capable young men, serving on different sides, a key question spurs him on: what really happened the night Jones, his great-uncle, died? And what was the aftermath – both for the family he left behind, and the town where his bomber crashed?

During seven years living in Germany, Harris visited every one of Jones's targets and all of the remaining RAF airbases from which he flew operations over more than two years until his death. As part of his meticulous research for this book, Harris interviewed Fries two dozen times and made contact with several other former night fighter pilots.

The result is an insightful human interest story with a forceful historical message: the damage inflicted by both sides on each other during the bombing campaign against Germany endures to this day. Jones's story is typical of thousands of New Zealanders, Australians, Canadians, South Africans and other 'colonials' who left their homes and travelled vast distances to fight in the air for an Empire to which they were fiercely loyal. His letters home help to bridge that distance and to give the past an immediacy that helps us to understand what was at stake - and to identify with the grief of so many families whose sons never came back. In their loss and in Germany, where war veterans still bear the indelible stain of Nazi atrocities, we can draw some measure of the human cost of that conflict.

Many books have described the bombing of Germany; some have also delved into the experiences on the German side, both in the air and on the ground as the bombs destroyed all around them. None has combined these stories with such personal poignancy, combining the breathtaking clashes in the air, the consequences on the ground and the repercussions even to this day for those involved.

This story, told largely in the words of two warring airmen whose paths crossed in the night time killing zone, reaches across the divide of years, of geography, of nationality to provide an exciting, tragic and unique insight into both sides' experiences of fighting the war - and into its enduring consequences.  

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