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THREE IN THIRTEEN & A HERO IS BORN

Three in Thirteen: The Story of a Mosquito Night Fighter Ace - Geoff Coughlin, Roger Dunsford

On the whole, this is a very remarkable book about a modest man (Joe Singleton) who joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) within days of the declaration of war in September 1939 and received training as a fighter pilot.

Upon completion of training, Singleton was kept back as a flight instructor for several months. He became one of the pioneer pilots in what was the developing science of night fighting, which the book does a fantastic job in explaining to the reader. Stapleton learned to fly both single and dual-engine aircraft which the RAF had put into service as night fighters. He would be posted to a frontline night fighter squadron in the spring of 1942 and spent the next couple of years honing his skills and growing in experience through flying a variety of missions from night defense against German bombers attacking Britain to 'Ranger' or 'Intruder' missions, which involved flying over German-occupied Europe and Germany by night attacking Luftwaffe bases and targets of opportunity. Very hazardous work.

Stapleton would come to the nation's attention and be lionized as a hero for the mission he and his navigator/radar operator (Flying Office Geoff Haslam) flew during the night of March 19th, 1944 against a large number of German bombers poised to bomb the city of Hull in Northern England. Stapleton was instrumental in breaking up the German attack, and in the space of 13 minutes, shot down 3 German Junkers bombers. In recognition of this achievement, Stapleton was later awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), Britain's second highest award for bravery.

Other hallmarks of this book are its illustrations, photos of various aircraft and squadron life (many of which came from Stapleton's personal photos) and an appendix which sheds further interesting details on Stapleton's mission of March 19th, 1944 as told in his own words and through official channels. All in all, "THREE IN THIRTEEN" is a very good, solid book which I recommend highly.