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.
We can though be proud of what our parents' generation did; we can also warn our children's generation of what war actually means.
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.
The story of MacRobert's Reply is remarkable in so many ways. I do hope that you 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 .