Book review by Joseph Mayon
February 14, 2016
Janine Harrington has produced a unique book about a unique unit in the RAF during WW II. RAF Group 100 was tasked with confusing as well as raiding against the Luftwaffe using electronic warfare—to confound and destroy. Although electronic warfare is common place today it was new at the time and Group 100 were its pioneers. Harrington writes concisely and completely about each phase of the evolution Group 100 experienced as well as the complete mention of the equipment utilized (most books mention two or three when there were over a dozen). She also has assembled first hand accounts from Group 100 members living today as well as accounts from family members which provide insight and much required context to best understand the times.
In RAF Group 100 Kindred Spirits, Harrington has the reader learning vital though little known details of electronic warfare’s infancy as well as its tactics. Handfuls of aircraft flying distraction raids seeming like hundreds and aircraft forming an electromagnetic line over the Channel during the prelude to D-Day so that German radar would think nothing the wiser, are but only two examples for the reader to be amazed by Group 100’s nearly nightly exploits.
RAF 100 Group Kindred Spirits fills a void in many libraries. But why is there a void and who is the author? The void is grandfathered in for two primary reasons. The first is that the Group’s activities were hypersecret with its aircraft specially marked so that each was under continuous guard when not aloft. Any military service person will identify with the stories of special operators whose aircraft landed at a diverted airfield. The second is due to the fact that Bomber Command personnel went from hero to zero at war’s end. Thankfully, that gross error has been corrected but Harrington has the issue addressed and objectively as well as poignantly. To say that Janine can write about RAF Group 100 is a bit like saying the Queen has poise. Harrington was borne to her work with her father MIA over Europe’s war-torn skies never to be recovered. Since that time she has served to record the unit’s history and service personnel recollections. She is also the secretary of the RAF 100 Group Association.
Aside from the plethora of gems found within Harrington’s writing, personal accounts and images regarding the war there are Easter eggs. One is the pilot’s account of flying is Hawker Hunter beneath Tower Bridge and why (an incredible series of events). Another is the remembrance walking seven miles to enjoy and egg (such was the want of fresh food as well as for a bit of company). One other is the chapter devoted to the USAAF’s 36th Bomb Squadron Radar Counter Measure Unit (of the Mighty Eighth Air Force).
Absolutely get this book since it will substantially enhance a WW II library collection as well as aviation electronic warfare specialization.