Lower than Low - by Micky Martin's rear gunner

Discussion in 'Books and Films' started by Antipodean Andy, Sep 28, 2007.

  1. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Had not heard of this so did some digging. Unfortunately not worth it apparently.


    Author : Tom Simpson. 1995 Libra Books Pty Ltd, 39 Maning Avenue, Sandy Bay 7005, Tasmania. 00 61 02 251 479. ISBN 0 909619 15 8. GBP 12.00

    "Tammy" Simpson, rear-gunner to the legendary wartime pilot Micky Martin, could have a large number of fascinating stories to tell on not only his own operational career but also in terms of insights into his pilot and the other crew members. Simpson's book, however, is completely riddled with the most ridiculous and easily-checkable errors which indicate that the manuscript has not been read and corrected by someone who knows what they are talking about.

    To quote one example:- "The Sergeants' Mess at Scampton had a couple of particularly nice portrait oil paintings, quite large ones. One was a portrait of Sgt Hannon, VC, the first VC awarded in the RAF in the war. It was a posthumous award for a very fine act of bravery." It would be difficult to introduce any more errors into this trio of sentences. The paintings were in the Officers' Mess, and the airman's name was Sgt John Hannah. I am sure that the 12 Squadron airmen F/O Donald E Garland and his observer Sgt Thomas Gray, who won the real first Air VCs of the war on 12th May 1940, would have something to say on the subject. Although Hannah certainly won the VC for a fine act of courage and bravery, he, unlike Garland and Gray, survived the incident, only to die of tuberculosis in 1947.

    Other example of such errors include:-

    "Manchesters had a triple tail [only the very early ones] and two in-line Merlins" [Vultures]

    "In recent years Scampton housed the Roulettes, the RAF's aerobatic unit" [Red Arrows]

    "O'Shannesy and his crew went into the Wash for some reason" [O'Shaugnessy]

    "The height of the plane above the water surface had to be fifty feet exactly, the air speed 200 mph … all told, we lost eight out of twenty one crews" [sixty feet, 230 mph, 8 out of 19 crews]

    "Hopwood was on Gibson's starboard side …" [Hopgood]

    I appreciate that (in Guy Gibson's own words) "a memory is a short thing, and flak never did it much good" and that 50+ years on, remembrances are easily blurred, but errors such as this are extremely common throughout the book and show an almost complete lack of research. This is especially unforgivable as most of the mistakes are easily picked up by anyone who is reasonably knowledgeable on the background, and to have been made by one such as Simpson, who was actually there at the time, shows poor attention to detail.

    Ignoring the plethora of such errors, the remainder of the book is dull stuff which Simpson would have done better to have left in his log book. The whole narrative comes across as a rambling, almost unlinked series of reminiscences and shows little insight into Micky Martin or any of the others. Here and there are amusing anecdotes, and there are occasional snippets of real information. I did like the story of the time Barnes Wallis had a go with the controls of Simpson's rear turret, firing a short burst at the butts. Such little gems are rare, and a member of the cognoscenti will find the rest of little significance. Not recommended and not to be taken as a research aid; the details aren't reliable.
  2. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Other than the above, well worth the money.:noidea:
  3. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    The response I was hoping for, thanks Geoff. Some inaccuracies but worth reading for the experiences.
  4. morse1001

    morse1001 Guest

    Its like the book called "Iron Coffins" by a former U-boat commander. One review of it said, "If you used a red pencil to underline all of the factual mistakes, then the book would resemble a bloodbath"!
  5. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Yes, they might not be able to write it right (or the editors edit!) but they were there and they've made an effort to record it.
  6. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    Would probably have been better if someone had sat down with him repeatedly and chatted about the war, then written the book as an autobiography for him.
  7. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    Memoirs are a tricky business. I think anyone who relies on them as the sole sources of information are always going to be disappointed. But as a general read it sounds interesting.

    An example I could cite would be "Life's Too Short to Cry: The Compelling Memoir of a Battle of Britain Ace" by Tim Vigors. I really enjoyed reading it, but alas, there were some factual errors. But I knew that because I'd read so much of the theatres and incidents that he was writing about. In defence of the books, Vigors sadly died whilst it was still a manuscript, and no factula editing was carried out before publication.
  8. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Makes you wonder what editors get paid for these days. That book's on my list already, Kyt so I don't have to abuse you for adding another to it!
  9. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    It's very good as a memoir - but don't expect dates and specific details. But some great material setting the "scene". Unfortunately it stops after his injuries in Singapore, so we don't get any details post 1942 and his time as an instructor in India.

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