Stirling Bomber

Stirling Bomber
Stirling bomber

Monday, 30 January 2017

Reviews of MacRobert's Reply

I was so pleased to see this review on Amazon:

This is a great story and made me understand more about Lamsdorf POW camp and the Long March. My father in law was in that camp and only survived the long march because he was picked up by American soldiers and taken to hospital. Most of the prisoners never spoke about their ordeal and this book helps us understand a little more of how they survived. Thank you so much for writing this lovely story.

I have to say that researching and writing particularly the account of Lamsdorf and the Long March was both harrowing and humbling. Much is beyond belief.

This review, also on Amazon is candid about the book but so clearly highlights its importance.

I'd like to explain why I've given this little book (129 pages) such a high score. It's not written by a famous author, but put together with the aid of a specialist publishing company that helps people to create their biographical and family history work. It's not brilliantly copy-edited, but that doesn't matter.

Whatever interest in or knowledge of RAF Bomber Command in WW2 you may or may not have, you'll learn a lot from this book. I already knew the story of Lady MacRobert and the plane, the first of several to to bear the name 'MacRobert's reply.' One of the things this book does very well indeed is to fill in many more details of that story. Also, it's Philip Jeffs's story of his father, Don Jeffs, and how Don was the sole survivor of the crash that destroyed 'MacRobert's Reply' in 1942.

These personal stories of the WW2 are of vital significance in our understanding of the courage, dedication and all too often the suffering and sacrifice of ordinary people. Don't miss this one

Other reviews, again on Amazon:

A wonderful book & fantastic story combining the tragedy & loss of a courageous, brave young aircrew aboard a special aircraft with its own, unique tale - and the personal story of Donald Jeffs, the sole survivor of the fateful crash in May 1942.
The book gives a fascinating account of how the 'MacRoberts Reply' name came to fruition with XV Sqn - which even today is still recognised on the squadrons modern fighter jets - and the unimaginable scale of family loss for one individual and her story of generosity to aid the war effort on Hitler, and avenge her tragic losses.

An excellent, enjoyable and insightful read and highly recommended.

The story of the MacRobert family is one which has fascinated me for a long time. Lady MacRobert's response, or shall we say 'reply', to the loss of her three sons was the beginning of a long legacy and tradition which remains with XV Squadron to this very day.
This book recounts the sad loss endured by Lady MacRobert and the 'reply', moving on to descriptive accounts of the crews and missions undertaken by the Short Stirling bomber. There is also the sadness as the crash which took the lives of eight crew members is recounted, along with the courage of Donald Jeffs as he survived not only the crash, but imprisonment thereafter. It is a story of courage, bravery and endurance and is a most fitting tribute to those who lost their lives fighting for the freedom that we enjoy today.

A wonderful book & fantastic story combining the tragedy & loss of a courageous, brave young aircrew aboard a special aircraft with its own, unique tale - and the personal story of Donald Jeffs, the sole survivor of the fateful crash in May 1942.
The book gives a fascinating account of how the 'MacRoberts Reply' name came to fruition with XV Sqn - which even today is still recognised on the squadrons modern fighter jets - and the unimaginable scale of family loss for one individual and her story of generosity to aid the war effort on Hitler, and avenge her tragic losses.

An excellent, enjoyable and insightful read and highly recommended.

A fantastic story of one of the most iconic Bomber Command aircraft of WW2 and in particular the personal story of one Sergeant Donald Jeffs. I've had the pleasure of meeting Donald a couple of times at events, but to read his story and that of his fellow crew men is truly humbling.
If the RAF, Bomber Command and the Stirling are your 'thing' then this is a must buy, or maybe you just want a story of courage and 'survival against the odds' then it fits the bill.
Fantastic read... a must have

The book is available on Amazon. Just follow this link






Tuesday, 17 January 2017

MacRobert's Reply, the book, is now on sale

Writing MacRobert's Reply was a remarkable experience, talking to Don Jeffs and reading Phil Jeffs' own research, but then digging further into the accounts of many other people of their experiences of war.

My research has taken me deeper into the MacRobert family story and I am indebted to Marion Miller for her remarkable work, From Cawnpore to Cromar: The MacRoberts of Douneside. I have looked deeper into XV Squadron and am indebted to Martyn Ford-Jones for the books he wrote, in particular Bomber Squadron: The men who flew with XV. and the archive he maintains. I have explored the story of the Stirling bomber and Jonathan Falconer’s book Stirling Wings. Anyone exploring Bomber Command during the Second World War would be the poorer had they not read Bomber Boys: Fighting back 1940-45 by Patrick Bishop or Bomber Command by Max Hastings. The administrative staff of XV squadron maintained detailed records of operations and the National Archives have digitised these and made them available. I am grateful to both but also specifically to the National Archive for the records of Lady MacRobert’s correspondence with the Air Ministry on which I have drawn extensively. Finally, I say thank you to the Imperial War Museum for making recordings of the recollections of veterans and to the veterans themselves for telling their stories.

My generation has been truly blessed not to have been confronted by such horrors.

We can though be proud of what our parents' generation did; we can also warn our children's generation of what war actually means.

The story of MacRobert's Reply is remarkable in so many ways. I do hope that your find reading it as rewarding as I did writing it.

The book is now available to buy on Amazon. You can find it by following this link .

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The book becoming a reality

Thanks to support in the shape of forward orders, MacRobert's Reply has been published in limited numbers. It should soon be available on Amazon. It would be very helpful if you could express interest by following this link

MacRobert’s Reply was the name given to the Stirling Bomber given to XV Squadron of RAF Bomber Command by a grieving mother in the early days of WW2.

This story of the MacRobert’s Reply takes as its central image the gift by Lady MacRobert. It delves into the tragic events that prompted such an unprecedented gift and the quite remarkable family from whence it came. It then follows the aircraft through its, or more accurately their short traumatic lives. The focus then shifts onto one man who amazingly survived the final, devastating crash. It records eye witness accounts of the events immediately following the crash. It then follows the sole survivor into captivity and, with the recollections of others similarly incarcerated, tries to offer an account of those lost years and the Long March back to freedom and ordinary life.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Can you help get this book into print

Phil Jeffs, the son of the sole survivor of the MacRoberts Reply that crashed in Denmark in 1942, and I have worked together to produce a book of 21,000 words with some great images. It is too small for main stream publishers but tells this important story.

Phil Jeffs and Story Terrace are looking to raise £1,150 in pre-orders to bring the book to publication. They need to collect 100 pre-orders @ £11.50 per copy.

Please follow this link to find out more.

I hope you can help.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

An image rich book in preparation

Very pleased that it looks as if my draft text and Philip Jeff's images of the MacRobert's Reply story will be combined by Story Terrace into a 'print on demand' book.

I have research records at the National Archive and Imperial War Museum, in particular Stalag VIIIB  also on Facebook and The Long March to set the remarkable story into context.

Friday, 2 October 2015

The story of the MacRobert's Reply

It is a story that has been told in fragments, but, when taken as a whole, becomes truly remarkable.

It begins in Aberdeen where a young Alexander MacRobert sets out for India to seek his fortune. His success comes in the shape of the British India Corporation.

Mac, as he is known, meets a young American, Rachel, from New England. She becomes his second wife and they have three sons.

In 1922 Mac is created Baronet of Cawnpore and Cromar. Later that year he dies. The eldest son, Alastair aged ten, succeeds to the title.

Tragedy strikes a further three times as each son is killed, the latter two in the service of the RAF.

Rachel gives them the means by which they can Reply, in the form of a Stirling Bomber which she hands to 15 Squadron.

The Bomber, call sign F for Freddie, is piloted first by Peter Boggis, who would make his career in the RAF, and then by 'Red' King.

The first MacRobert flew many operations but ended its day in a collision on the ground.

The MacRobert crest was transferred to another Stirling and this crashed tragically in Denmark killing eight crew members. The crash is remembered to this day by local Danish people who wished to show their thanks to the British bomber crew for supporting them in resisting the German occupation.

Radio operator, Don Jeffs, miraculously survived and spend his war as a PoW before undertaking and surviving the Long March home.

The MacRobert's Reply name was revived in 1982 by Peter Boggis and since then 15 Squadron has always flown a MacRobert's Reply F for Freddie.

Find out more about the book which has now been published in a limited edition

Friday, 25 September 2015

The beginning

In my work on War on Wheels, I have found instances of individuals, groups and businesses raising money for the war effort. The MacRobert's Reply is more than one such instance, since it was substantial, enduring and told the story of great commitment by a grieving mother. The result today is the MacRobert Trust.

Put very briefly, Lady MacRobert lost all three of her sons in the early part of the war. Inspired by Spitfire Week, she gave to the RAF a cheque for £25,000 (£700,000 in today's money) to buy a Stirling Bomber.

The story that followed was about the young men who flew the aircraft and its successors. It is their story that I am now beginning to explore in collaboration with the son of one the surviving crew members, Donald Jeffs, and Story Terrace.