Failed to Return – edited by Keith C. Ogilvie

A compelling look at sixteen stories of Canadians killed and missing in the line of duty while serving in RAF Bomber Command, one of the most dangerous assignments in the Second World War. Despite the risks, the opportunity to fly was seen as exciting and glamorous, attracting a steady stream of young volunteers. Of some 125,000 aircrew who served in Bomber Command, 45% were killed in action. Nearly 10,000 Canadians were among those who perished.

Failed to Return: Canada’s Bomber Command Sacrifice in the Second World War tells sixteen stories of Canadian flyers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Many of the stories in this book are heroic, like those of two Canadians in the famous Dambusters raid, or brave, like those captured as POWs, while others are simply tragic. These stories describe staggering losses where entire airplanes, with their crews, disappeared without a trace. At its core, Failed to Return presents these individual accounts as an illumination of, and memorial to, the unique lives that lie behind the dreadful statistics.

Head and shoulders picture of Keith C. OgilvieKeith Ogilvie graduated from RMC in 1969 and served for nine years as an aerospace engineer and then worked on Canada’s space program in the 1970s and 80s, before moving into international development, supporting governance and economic development projects. He is a former pilot (who owned an ex RCAF trainer–a Chipmunk), a sailor, an explorer, and the author of Skeets Ogilvie (entitled “You never Know Your Luck” in the UK) and the editor of Failed to Return.

Keith Ogilvie made this presentation at the RUSI-VI luncheon on Wednesday, January 10, 2024.

Additional material:

YouTube video – Avro Lancaster Bombers during WWII
There is an excellent documentary (filmed 1943) covering a Lancaster bombing mission (length 36 minutes), FYI. This was forwarded by a fellow RUSI-VI member. This is a superb study and well worth watching to understand the intricate technical requirements to mount one bombing mission over occupied Europe.

Book – The Bomber Mafia – Malcolm Gladwell
A recommendation from a fellow RUSI-VI member. It ties in with this presentation, but from the American perspective about precision bombing during WWII in the Pacific.

Book – One Who Almost Made It Back – Peter Cellis
Mentioned in the presentation during the section on ‘Teddy’ Blenkinsop, DFC, CdeG (Belge), RCAF

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