During World War II, Canada trained tens of thousands of airmen under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Those selected for Bomber Command operations went on to rain devastation upon the Third Reich in the great air battles over Europe, but their losses were high.
German fighters and anti-aircraft guns took a terrifying toll. The chances of surviving a tour of duty as a bomber crew were almost nil.
Murray Peden's story of his training in Canada and England, and his crew's operations on Stirlings and Flying Fortresses with 214 Squadron, has been hailed as a classic of war literature. It is a fine blend of the excitement, humour, and tragedy of that eventful era.
©1979 Murray Penden (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Stephen on 03-05-16

One of the finest Bomber Command memoires.

Would you consider the audio edition of A Thousand Shall Fall to be better than the print version?

No but only because the narrator was hopelessly amateur. He mispronounced much and indulged in malapropisms. His attempts at accents detracted from the text, which is beautifully written, graphic, funny and tragic in equal measure. The author brings out the danger, the fortitude of the crews and the spirit which permeated Bomber Command. A worthy tribute in particular to those brave airmen who went to war in the Short Stirling, a much maligned aircraft but an aircraft with a good reputation amongst those who mastered it on operations.

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Thousand Shall Fall?

Too many to mention but the description of the author's trip to Gelsenkirchen, for which he won a well deserve DFC, stands out. Posterity is fortunate that Murray Peden has chosen to record his stellar career as a bomber captain and pilot in such lively, sensitive and graphic words.

What didn’t you like about Anthony Haden Salerno’s performance?

His utter ignorance of the subject, his cringing attempts at accents, his comical mispronunciations and malapropisms. Some examples with the correct version in brackets: Startishall (Stradishall), Bury Street Edmonds (Bury Saint Edmonds), Extractor (Exactor), St Neets (St Neots), Reeding (Reading), Coop (Co-op), Coop (Coupe), N.A. A.F.I (naafi - and all the other abbreviations, particularly ranks, which should have been pronounced in full not spelt), Jacowbeen (Jacobean), practisable (practicable) and worst of all, mispronouncing Air Commodore Johnny Fauquier's surname such that it resembled the four letter F-word. This was to show a disprespect for the text. Why does Audible use actors, who inevitably have little sympathy for military subjects, when a knowledgeable expert would be true to the text and impart a sympathetic understanding.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?


Any additional comments?

I still rate it one of the finest aircrew memoirs and I've read or listened to most. A pity Salerno didn't do it justice but this can be overlooked in deference to Murray Peden.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By david on 06-03-15

A wonderful and moving account of bomber warfare.

This audible book was so good I may listen to it again I am sure. Highly recommended and truly moving.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By John on 14-06-17

Brilliant account of WW2 flying

This is a simply brilliant account of an ordinary pilot's experience in World War II. It combines both the drama and danger faced by these young men with lots of anecdotes about what it was like to be a servicemen at the time.

I am private pilot myself and am based very close to where the author was stationed. I have flown over the disused airfields in the story without realising their significance.

The writing style is engaging and very enjoyable.

My only criticism (written as a Brit!) is that the narrator did not bother to research pronunciation of British place names. Initially this is amusing, but later it really starts to grate!

Despite that, I'd thoroughly recommend it!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Andrew Scott McClanahan on 02-03-15

Becoming a pilot in World War II

What did you like best about this story?

The perspective of just one person. So many WWII books are grandiose coverage of leaders and tactics. This is just the story of one person. The details are so great, the story seems to be day to day and gives the reader a strong feeling of the author's life. Not only a great pilot, Murray is a good writer. This is the book to learn what it took to become a pilot during this short period of history. The humor is refreshing and well done. One of my favorite WWII books. Be sure to read "The Wrong Stuff" and "Above the Thunder" if you like this book.

What does Anthony Haden Salerno bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

This book is a collection of stories, most of them very funny. Telling the story is critical, and the narrator does a great job. What fun recording this book must have been for him.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Not the title. "No Better Time to Learn to Fly. No Better Time to Die Flying."

Any additional comments?

Every pilot should read this book so they know what they missed. Just the story of landing the Tiger Moth is worth the hours invested. I'm not a pilot, but my father was an 8th Air Force pilot 1943 to 1945. Now I know a little more about him.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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