This book perfectly captures the thoughts and feelings of a young British fighter pilot as he reflects upon his pre-war training and his combat experiences in France (May 1940) and during the early phases of the Battle of Britain (July - August 1940).
I was particularly struck by the following recollection made by Sutton of his participation in a combat with German dive bombers above the English Channel: "...Two in front of me turned steeply and headed for home. Their fighter escort was of no use to them now.
"I overshoot the first too quickly to observe the effect of my short burst, but I was able to fasten on to the tail of the second. Twisting and turning, he was now only a few feet above the water. I pressed the firing button as he tried a sudden steep turn to the right which brought him right across my gun-sights. The worst shot in the world could not have missed.
"The Junkers tightened its turn but skidded violently towards the water as its nose dropped. In less than a second it was all over. It had hit the water with the full momentum of its three tons travelling at 200 miles per hour, but it plunged in like a stone and made little splash.
"As I watched, something wound up in my stomach. It was my first Hun but there was no immediate feeling of elation.
"For a moment I was conscious of a sickly, nauseating wave of sympathy for the wretched men I had sent to their doom.
"It was a sensation which, thank God, I never had again."
Within a month, the author was shot down, sustaining severe burns and a yearlong hospitalization. Sutton's story, written while the Second World War was going on, is unflinchingly honest and shows how people in wartime see their lives as forfeit, likely to be snatched away in the twinkling of an eye.