Failed to Return

Canada’s Bomber Command Sacrifice in the Second World War

Edited by: Keith C. Ogilvie
ISBN 9781772033816
Softcover | Publication Date: November 2, 2021
Book Dimensions: 6 in. x 9 in.
288 Pages
$26.95 CAD
E-Book Price: $12.99 CAD

About the Book

A compelling look at sixteen stories of Canadians killed and missing in the line of duty while serving in the Royal Air Force Bomber Command, one of the most dangerous assignments in the Second World War.

Royal Air Force Bomber Command was one of the most dangerous divisions for Allies serving 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 the 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 tells sixteen stories of Canadian flyers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Many of the stories in this book are heroic, like those of two Canadian participants in the famous Dambusters raid, or brave, like those captured as prisoners of war, while others are simply tragic, describing staggering losses where entire aircrafts and crew 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 lay behind the dreadful statistics.

About the Author(s)

Keith Ogilvie is a former aerospace engineer who worked on Canada’s space program in the 1970s and ’80s, before moving into the field of international development, supporting governance and economic development projects. He is also a former pilot (who owned an ex-RCAF trainer), a sailor, an explorer, and the bestselling author of The Spitfire Luck of Skeets Ogilvie.


“Of the 40,000 Canadians who served as aircrew in Bomber Command during the Second World War, almost 10,000 lost their lives. In its collection of portraits of some of these Canadians and their comrades in various crews lost, Failed to Return puts a human face to this statistic and helps ensure the memory of their sacrifice is not forgotten.”
—Mark Zuehlke, author of the Canadian Battle Series
“This collection of stories, at once tragic and inspiring, proves the significant contribution Canadians made to the Allied war effort in the air during WWII. With an accessible, thoughtful introduction deftly setting the scene, the book builds on existing scholarship by including a previously unpublished account of yet another brave soul who failed to return.”
—Kristin Semmens, Assistant Teaching Professor in History at the University of Victoria and author of Seeing Hitler’s Germany: Tourism in the Third Reich.
“During the Second World War, thousands of brave young Canadians flew bombers against targets in Europe. If they knew the overwhelming odds against them, they chose to ignore them. Failed to Return tells of those men and brings home the harsh realities faced by the bomber crews.“
—Dave Obee , Editor and Publisher, Times Colonist, Victoria
"From the trials and tribulations of training in the BCATP to campaigns in support of victory. Sixteen meticulously curated stories exposing the breadth and depth of the precarious and too often ill-fated lives of the Bomber Boys of WW2. A fine tribute to those who failed to return.”
—Lisa Jean Russ, author of Last Flight to Stuttgart: Searching for the Bomber Boys of Lancaster EQ-P