Colin Dobinson
Historic England, £40
ISBN 978-1848024755
Review Edward Biddulph

June 1944 saw the arrival across the English Channel of the first of a terrifying new weapon. Called the Vergeltungswaffe-1 (‘retribution weapon’) or ‘V1’ in Germany; ‘divers’ or ‘flying bombs’ by the British military top-brass; and ‘doodlebugs’ by the public – the bomb heralded a new wave of destruction over London and south-east England.

Operation Diver is the definitive account of how Anti-Aircraft Command attempted to counter the V1 threat. It describes the work by army boffins to piece together the fragmented intelligence, the evolving pattern of gun emplacements, and the men and women who defended the Home Front. More could have been said about the work abroad by commandos and others to gather bomb secrets, but that is possibly another story.

Against the odds, AA Command achieved remarkable success. Given their temporary and transitory nature, little remains of Britain’s V1 defences today. This book, which delves into the photographic archive and includes a comprehensive gazetteer of sites, is a fine tribute to those on the front line, and will be an invaluable resource to researchers.

This review appeared in CA 352.

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