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AN AIRMAN'S ANSWER TO 'ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT'

Winged Victory - V. M. Yeates

By chance, I came across this book in a Barnes & Noble bookstore 20 years ago, read it, and now treasure it among my favorites.

 

The author gives an unvarnished account of a young RFC/RAF [Royal Flying Corps/Royal Air Force] fighter pilot's experiences on the Western Front during the spring and summer of 1918.

 

Despite the glamor often associated with the public image of the "dashing airman" of the First World War, he faced a variety of hazards, from anti-aircraft fire, collision in a dogfight, to the prospect of a fiery death from "the Hun in the sun".

 

In "WINGED VICTORY", the reader is given access to the all the perils, fears, and frustrations faced by the young pilot Tom Cundall, who, each day he went off on patrol, gambled with his life and fought to keep his sanity, never knowing which friends wouldn't return to the aerodrome. Or whether he would survive or be maimed or crippled.

 

Unlike their German counterparts (who had the "Hennecke" [sp?] harness in the later stages of the war), the Allied airman was issued no parachute.

 

"WINGED VICTORY" brings back the immediacy of what it was like to be a British fighter pilot on the Western Front in the last year of the First World War. Highly recommended.