Vichy Air Force at War (The French Air Force that fought the Allies in WW2) by J.Sutherland & D.Canwell.
Published by Pen & Sword. ISBN 9781848843363
I had limited knowledge of the activities of the Vichy Air Force during WW2 and sadly I can’t say that I’m that more knowledgeable now after reading it! One cannot help thinking that the authors undertook the most rudimentary primary research and seemed to rely on a rather limited array of secondary published material. If this was not damning enough the lack of any French publications within the Bibliography seals the case for me!
Every chapter, all 9 of them, promises riches within but sadly were left with just promises, half filled or totally missing. Many of the chapters deal with the broadly well known instances where the Vichy Force came into contact with their Allied counterparts, but were left bereft of any thing outside of these narrow confines. Some words on the broader structure, command & control along with the daily running/patrols wouldn't have gone amiss. Sadly without, were left with a book about specific battles with no thread really holding the various tales together or a meaningful context.
The book has a reasonable selection of photographs but sadly not all were really relevant or warranted given the books subject matter. I don’t know if this was because there is a paucity of Vichy Air Force photographs or because of the authors lack of primary research.
The best part of the book is the Appendices, some 5 in total. The first is a OoB of the French Air Force prior to the German May’40 invasion, which is followed by a OoB for the Vichy Air Force come September’40. Appendix 3 lists the Victory credits for the Vichy pilots, whilst Appendix 4 covers the activities in Indochina (inc the French-Thai war of 1940). The final appendix gives us a brief glimpse of the still born French Naval Arm.
Without the various appendices I would give this book 1 star equating to very poor. However it will get a heady 2 stars from me, equaling poor simply because of their inclusion.
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.
And so as I patrol in the valley of the shadow of the tricolour I must fear evil, For I am but mortal and mortals can only die