Re-Assembling an Aircrew



Re-Assembling an Aircrew


A review of 'The Eight Passenger' by Miles Tripp. Miles Tripp was a bomb aimer with 218 Squadron. In the book the author explains his efforts to reunite with his former crew.


Spatial Coverage




One newspaper cutting


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Re-Assembling an Aircrew
By David Holloway
The Eighth Passenger: a Flight of Recollection and Discovery. By Miles Tripp. (Heinemann. 45s)
The ties that united an aircrew during the last war were, I imagine, far closer than those that joined, say, a tank crew, the members of an infantry section or even the crew of an M T B.
Partly from self-preservation, a little from mutual respect, largely because it seemed the natural thing to do, the aircrew remained a close-knit group on the ground and in the air. Yet very often it was a combination of very different personalities, with little in common intellectually or socially, tied together by the mere fact that it took the combined skills of all of them to carry out an operational flight.
Yet as Miles Tripp observes in “The Eighth Passenger,” with the same surprise that must have been felt by most members of aircrew, as soon as the need for this unit disappeared the group broke up, and with very little lasting sorrow assumed their separate identities again.
Mr. Tripp, a sometime Bomb Aimer who completed a tour of 40 “ops” with 218 Squadron in the last six months of the war in Europe, has subtitled his book “A Flight of Recollection [missing words]
sented by a DFC and two DFMs for the crew.
The business of finding his crew again was not nearly as easy as Mr. Tripp thought that it might be. The Wireless Operator was going to be a policeman and a little detective work discovered that he was now an inspector; the Rear Gunner had remained in touch; the Navigator was easy to find; an appeal to a local paper produced the Flight Engineer; and the Mid-Upper Gunner was traced through the Death Certificate of his father (not for nothing is Mr. Tripp a solicitor and a thriller writer).
The pilot, who had returned to his native Australia, did not answer letters but eventually reacted to a telephone call. There was no reunion, but Mr. Tripp visited all save the pilot, with whom he eventually exchanged letters. What he found is extremely interesting if not, on reflection, startling. All were frightened at one time or another – only the youngest claimed to have felt no fear. Each had different memories and separate worst moments.
One of Mr. Tripp’s strongest personal memories was hearing at a briefing that they were to bomb Dresden and that the city [missing words]


David Hooloway, “Re-Assembling an Aircrew,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 16, 2024,

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