A HISTORIAN with a lifelong love of the RAF has republished a book he wrote 32 years ago after uncovering remarkable new stories about a squadron that fought in the Second World War.

Martyn Ford-Jones from Haydon Wick became the official historian of XV Squadron after the 74-year-old wrote a comprehensive history about 15 of its members shortly after he moved to Swindon in 1984. Due to a disinterested publisher convinced that war books didn't sell, the Bomber Squadron: Men Who Flew With XV Squadron collection fell out of print and was left to languish on Martyn's shelves.

However, after travelling far and wide to help the distressed family of American pilot Leonard O'Hara, who died fighting for England, find out what happened to his body, he's revised and republished the book.

Martyn said: "This is the only story in the book where the person involved didn't survive the war. I included it to show the impact that such a loss can have on families so many years later, some of his relatives died without knowing what happened, and many of the people I wrote about and were good friends with are no longer with us so we have to keep their memories alive.

"Leonard's family got in touch with me 18 months ago because all they knew was that he'd served in XV Squadron in 1942, so I pieced together his trail. He'd joined the Canadian Air Force and was deployed to England because he was desperate to fight in the war but the USA hadn't joined it yet. His plane went down over the sea near Holland, though the land there has since been reclaimed and turned into farmland so we visited the farm and could actually pick up the pieces of the wreckage, which was a very emotional experience."

Martyn has also published the diaries of his late father Robert, who served as a soldier in the same war. Martyn added: "I've had an interest in the RAF since my earliest recollections and I've always loved planes, collecting aviation books about old battles, it's an honour to be part of it in some way now. My father didn't want me to go into the RAF so I got another job as a designer, which is how I got my foot in the door with publishing. I went to the reunions of XV Squadron every year before it disbanded and they were very pleased with my work.

"Going back over the book again after all this time was quite interesting - lots of 'Did I really write that?' moments, and the internet allowed me to expand on a lot of details easily. Originally, I'd spent a fortune buying records from the National Archive for research, but it was worth it. Writing and editing on a computer is so much easier than when I had to use a typewriter and re-do the whole page after every mistake."