Those Brave Crews: The Epic Raid to Destroy Hitler's Ploesti Oil Fields
Ray Ward

Ray Ward, the author of this book, chooses an unusual format for covering the attacks by the US aircraft on the Romanian Ploesti oil fields, that of an epic poem.

I’m personally no big fan of this type of writing in reference books and prefer a more “normal” approach to the topic, but apart from the actual 120 page poem, there are a lot of short texts next to the verses, providing background or additional details on the events described as well as photos from the raids and the men that took part.

When Sergeant Bagley, on flight line,
Scanned northward for the Q’s return,
At first he stared with puzzlement.
Sue’s adept crew chief couldn’t define
Just what was wrong, but did discern
By her approach ‘twas evident
That trouble rode in her descent.
The plane was edging down too fast,
Its angle far too steep. Good God!
All props were feathered! Engines dead!
She’d not gain strip! She’s never last!
By horror gripped at sight so odd,
He, in reaction, lowered head.
For sure huge flames and smoke would bloom
Where craft and crew dropped to their doom.

Whether or not one likes reading this type of poems is a matter of taste, those who enjoy it will no doubt find this book to be excellent and the hard facts presented along with the poem to be great additions, those who do not expect a poem but rather a regular reference book will most likely be disappointed though the hard facts and the images might make up for this.

(Reviewed by Marcus Wendel)

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