Joey Jacobson's War
A Jewish-Canadian Airman in the Second World War
In the spring of 1940 Canada sent hundreds of highly trained volunteers to serve in Britain's Royal Air Force as it began a concerted bombing campaign against Germany. Nearly half of them were killed or captured within a year. This is the story of one of those airmen, as told through his own letters and diaries as well as those of his family and friends.
Joey Jacobson, a young Jewish man from Westmount on the Island of Montreal, trained as a navigator and bomb-aimer in Western Canada. On arriving in England he was assigned to No. 106 Squadron, a British unit tasked with the bombing of Germany. Joey Jacobson’s War tells, in his own words, why he enlisted, his understanding of strategy, tactics, and the effectiveness of the air war at its lowest point, how he responded to the inevitable battle stress, and how he became both a hopeful idealist and a seasoned airman. Jacobson's written legacy as a serviceman is impressive in scope and depth and provides a lively and intimate account of a Jewish Canadian's life in the air and on the ground, written in the intensity of the moment, unfiltered by the memoirist's reflection, revision, or hindsight. Accompanying excerpts from his father's diary show the maturation of the relationship between father and son in a dangerous time.
“Well written, well researched, and well organized, Joey Jacobson’s War is a splendid account of a young Jewish airman’s war. His letters and diaries—and his father’s—offer great insight into the early years of the war and much on public opinion in Canada from 1939 until Joey’s death in action. Peter Usher has done a fine job.”
– J.L. Granatstein, author of Canada’s War
A wonderful book for many reasons, including the depth of meticulous research by the author. However, its uniqueness rests in the first-person narratives of Joey’s diary and notebook entries, and the letters to and from friends and family, particularly his father. Their great strength is that they were penned ‘in the now,’ unencumbered by the passage of time, faded recollections, and perhaps the sober reconsideration of issues after years of musing about matters/events long since passed. Joey was a prolific, skilled writer, fascinated by the world around him, the great events that were unfolding, and his place in them. Highly recommended. – Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret’d) David L. Bashow, OMM, CD, author of No Prouder Place – Canadians and the Bomber Command Experience, 1939-1945