Published Jan 2010
The term ‘Friendly Fire’, the somewhat illogical words used to describe the accidental shooting of servicemen by their own side, leapt into prominence during the Gulf War as if it were an entirely new phenomenon – yet another example of the problems created, and still far from understood, by the presence of reporters in or near the front line of a battle with the technical equipment to transmit televised coverage of the fighting as it happens.
Of course, as Richard Bickers points out in this historical survey of some of the most dramatic incidents of what he more correctly calls ‘accidental amicide’, it is an occurrence as old as warfare itself. It is inevitable that in the heart of battle men become confused and disoriented and such accidents are bound to happen. Sometimes, as the author shows, the blame can be attributed to the incompetence or stupidity of a commander who leads or sends his men into the line of fire of his own guns. More often, however, it is simply the result of a breakdown in communications or a change in the weather.
In this absorbing book, Richard Bickers puts ‘Friendly Fire’ in its true perspective, using his own experience as an airman in and after the second World War to show how hard it is for a pilot to distinguish friend from foe.