THE struggle to train wartime air gunners, bomb aimers and navigators in the unforgiving weather and fells of Furness and the Lake District is explored in a major new book.

Ian Tyler’s The RAF in Cumbria and North Lancashire, Dumfries and Galloway 1939 – 1946 has taken six years to complete and features more than 500 images.

It includes the development of training bases at Millom, Walney and Cark, where many young men lost their lives in accidents, often in out-dated aircraft like the Boulton Paul Defiant.

The search for missing crews and aircraft wrecks resulted in the birth of RAF Mountain Rescue.

Mr Tyler said: “This is the untold story of what happened to our trainee aircrews, the airfields, the fearless RNLI and Air Sea Rescue units who did their best to pluck the ditched airmen from the Solway, Clyde and Irish Sea.”

This is a 14th book by Mr Tyler, a specialist on stone and metal extraction in the Lake District who for many years ran a mining museum in Keswick.

The book provides a comprehensive history of airfields with a list of the aircraft incidents.

It concludes with a look at the mammoth task of disposing of thousands of tons of surplus ammunition at the end of the war – much of it dumped at sea off the North of the county.

Mr Tyler’s 651-page book is from Blue Rock Publications and is available from book shops or direct from Mr Tyler on 01228 561883 or by email to