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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14 - Death Across Distance EXTRA MATERIAL

Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.
Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young."

By Alfred Edward Housman. Inscribed on a memorial on the island of Vis, Croatia, to RAF airmen buried there 1943-45.

 

Photo: Col Jones at far left as pall bearer for his friend Eric Wynn, buried beside Mildenhall airbase in August 1942

In the weeks before his death, Col Jones learned a good friend from the Auckland Star was visiting England with a group of New Zealand journalists. Anxious to make contact, he and his friend, Eric Dumbleton, tried to track each other down....

 

Col Jones's letter to the New Zealand High Commissioner to London, Bill Jordan

 

The Secretary

W.J.Jordan Esq.,

High Commissioner for New Zealand

1 February 1944

 

Dear Sir

Recently, I received a letter from my friend, E.V.DUMBLETON, who, I learned from that letter, was in England, one of a party of visiting New Zealand journalists. So that I could contact him, he gave me a list of his addresses for the next 10 days or so; but unfortunately I have lost the letter.

 

I wonder if I could trouble you to give me Mr Dumbleton’s address for February 6, so that I could write to him. I am particularly anxious to contact him.

 

Sincerely

F.C.Jones, Flight Lieutenant

RAF Upwood

Near Peterborough

 

Letter to Eric Dumbleton, 4 February 1944 

Dear Eric

Since you posted your letter on Jan. 31 I have moved – hence the reason it did not reach me sooner. In any case, Little Snoring was wrong by a month, so that the letter had to be re-addressed twice before reaching me.

I don’t know how we are going to arrange the meeting Eric. It’s deuced awkward. I definitely am not going to get leave for at least 8 weeks, as far as I can see ahead at this stage. I am doing about a week’s concentrated training on certain equipment at this place before going back on a second tour of operations. (Don’t mention that fact if you should happen to be writing to anyone at home, because I don’t want my mother to know.) My address when I start that tour will be: - “RAF OAKINGTON, Cambridgeshire.”

 

By a curious irony, I have recently finished a week’s leave, so will be having none for some time. It is going to be hard to make London. Oakington is some 3 hours from London. You get out at Cambridge and get a bus to Oakington. But again, Eric, if you come, there’s no certainty that I am going to be there. I could so easily be flying. Now that I have said all that – I am afraid that I must have sounded somewhat discouraging. Please, for God’s sake, don’t think that I am not keen to see you. Think what a visitor from home would mean to me.

 

I shall ring you at your hotel on Sunday at 7.30pm and hope you are there. If not, the best time to get me is between 5.30pm and 7.30pm at Upwood. I ought to be available between these times. I don’t know what times would be suitable at Oakington, because I have not arrived there yet. The Upwood phone no. is RAMSEY 2294. I do hope I can catch you in when I ring or you catch me. Dammit Eric, we are back in the same country, not 6000 miles apart. It ought not to be beyond the bounds of ingenuity to meet somehow, even though it might take a little time to arrange.

 

I received this letter only today, and in the fear that you have left your present address, and in the expectation that you have left a future address, I shall mark this letter “please forward".

Hoping to hear from you.

 

As ever

Col Jones.

 

Col and Eric Dumbleton failed to meet up. These letters came to light only after Col’s death, when Dumbleton wrote to Col’s mother on 9 June 1944.

 

Dear Mrs Jones

 

Only much pressure of work has prevented me from writing to you before now about Colwyn, first, if I may, to tell how how sorry I was to hear, when I returned from England, that he was missing, and also to say that while there I had some contact with him, though unfortunately only by letter.

 

The two letters I enclose more or less explain themselves. Almost as soon as I reached England I ascertained the address and wrote to him, but the address was out-of-date and the letter took a long time to reach him. – Finally, after receiving his letter, O wrote to him asking him if he could see me if I went to Cambridge the following Saturday – I think that would be Saturday, February 13 [in fact, February 12]. In order to be sure of reaching him I wrote to both Upwood and Oakington, but no reply came. As I knew that his plans might have been altered by new orders, I still hoped to hear from him before I left, but it was not to be.

 

I thought you would like to have these letters, especially as in one of them you will see how you were in his thoughts.

 

I am

Yours Sincerely,

Eric V. Dumbleton

 

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