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FROM PARADE GROUND TO COCKPIT

A Soldier in the Cockpit: From Rifles to Typhoons in World War II - Ron Pottinger

This is a wartime memoir that the author meant for his sons and grandchildren.  The war was something that Pottinger had largely put behind him.  Like many of his generation, his focus, after he was discharged, was to get on with life and live it to the full, with gratitude.  For anyone who has a grandfather or father (as I have) who fought in the Second World War, this is understandable.   The subject of the war, if it comes up at all, is either brushed aside or talked about in terms of its lighter moments shared with comrades and civilians in various parts of the world where one served. 

 

Pottinger's war was a long one.   Conscripted into the army in 1939, within 2 years, he had mananged to secure a transfer to the Royal Air Force, where he was trained as a pilot (in Florida, part of the training scheme underwritten by the U.S., which trained British aircrew).  Upon completion of training, he returned to Britain, where he was assigned to a fighter squadron flying Hawker Typhoons, a fighter found to be ideal for carrying out ground attack missions. 

 

Pottinger flew numerous combat sorties til he was shot down over Germany on New Year's Day, 1945.   He spent 4 months in a POW camp, enduring many hardships.   It is books like these which serve as a sober reminder of how horrible war is in terms of lives lost, communities shattered, and how for its survivors, war leaves marks that can never be erased.