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Fighter Pilot (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) [Paperback]

Paul Richey
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

12 Sep 2002 CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS
Originally published anonymously in 1941, this was the first and finest story of a fighter pilot in World War Two. Based on the author's personal journal, it is the classic account of the part played by RAF No.1 Squadron in the air battles that preceded the fall of France in 1940. Beginning on the day the squadron arrived in France, the book recounts the unnerving lull of the 'Sitzkrieg' and the sudden crescendo of violence and crushing fatigue of almost non-stop combats during the 'Blitzkrieg'. Imbued with the Great War traditions of chivalry, Richey and his comrades accorded the enemy fighter squadron mercy and respect, until the disillusion of witnessing the Luftwaffe's callous attacks on helpless refugees changed all that. It was then that the skills and elan of the RAF's premier fighter squadron were turned to even greater account, and the result was a remarkable combat record. By the time they withdrew from France on 18 June 1940, No.1 Squadron had destroyed a total of 155 enemy aircraft, 114 of them in only ten days - for the loss of three pilots killed, two wounded, and one prisoner of war. As Paul Richey wrote: 'It seems - and I believed it was - a miracle.'


Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Cassell Military; New Ed edition (12 Sep 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304363391
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304363391
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 189,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

'One of the greatest and most stirring tales a fighting man has ever told' Evening Standard

Paul Richey landed his Hawker Hurricane in France in 1939. He was 23 years old and, like the rest of RAF No 1 Squadron, he believed in the principles of the Great War: mercy and respect. But Richey and his comrades were savagely confronted with the new realities of war. Shocked by the horror of the Luftwaffe's callous attacks on refugees, the skills of the RAF's premier fighter squadron were deployed to devastating effect.

The result was an outstanding combat record. By the time the Squadron was withdrawn it had destroyed a total of 155 enemy aircraft - for the loss of just three pilots. Richey began his journal the day he arrived in France and all the thrills, adrenaline-rushes and sheer terror of dog-fighting are captured by a man discovering for himself the true nature of the deadly combat in which he is engaged.

About the Author

Born in 1916, he was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 1937. Severely wounded in action in the Battle of France, he returned to combat flying in England in 1941, leading a Spitfire squadron on offensive sweeps over occupied France. In 1942 he was sent to the India/Burma theatre to revise their fighter tactics. Invalided home in early 1944, he was later posted to SHAEF Belgium, and ended the war as a Wing Commander Operations in the War Room of the 2nd Tactical Air Force in Germany. A dedicated Europhile, he was working on a history of Anglo-French relations when he died in 1969.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jolly decent 15 Oct 2008
Format:Paperback
I am lucky enough to have read this in the first edition of 1941, which belonged to my grandfather. The book was originally published anonymously and the dust jacket still bears the price of 6s. This original edition added even more to the authenticity of "Fighter Pilot's" experiences.

Even if you do not have a first edition, this is a terrific book. The tension of seemingly endless waiting interspersed with high-adrenaline air combat grips you from start to finish. The feeling of excitement, fear, comradeship, honour, humanity and patriotism is wonderfully portrayed.

I quote a review from the dust jacket from Sir John Squire in "The Illustrated London News": "The senses of beauty, of humour and of compassion are always with him, and a rare gift of clean, clear English...The whole book is so decent and modest and brave and gay that it seems almost vulgar to mention the fact."
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
There are few first hand accounts in English of the fighting in France in May and June 1940, as the French army collapsed and the Germans marched into Paris. Paul Richey, a pilot with RAF No1 Squadron flying Mk 1 Hurricanes, describes the success of the Hurricane against overwhelming odds, with handfuls of RAF fighters being deployed against massed German bombers and their accompanying fighters. No I Squadron performed amazingly, by the time it was withdrawn from France it had shot down 155 German aircraft, 114 of them in ten days. The Squadron had three pilots killed.
The author also expressing his love of France and notes the work of fifth columnists who killed allied officers and disturbed communications. When he was shot down for the third time he was operated on in the American Hospital in Paris and describes the terrible atmosphere in June 1940 as Paris prepared for its occupation.
As he returned to England and looked down from the air, he writes that he "saw a game of cricket in progress on a village pitch. With my mind still filled with the blast and flame that had shattered France, I was seized with utter disgust at the smug insular contentedness England enjoyed behind her sea barrier."
Paul Richey was not only a hero, he can also write well and brings the flavour of those terrible times to life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read 19 April 2011
Format:Paperback
Where this book differs most obviously from the other memoirs that I have read of WW2 fighter pilots is the fact that it was first published in 1941. Under the Wire (William Ash) and First Light (Geoffrey Wellum) were published decades after the war, and as such benefited from passage of time to allow the memories to distil somewhat.

This book is shorter, and feels less polished. But that means that it somehow feels more 'authentic' (for want of a better way of putting this across). The way this book is written, in short occasionally sharp accounts of events that are obviously expanded from his notes, one feels that Richey has written frankly and honestly of his experienced, and it is as such largely unclouded by influences that might have affected him after the war.

This memoir should be an essential read for not only those interested in fighter pilots, but the war in general (and indeed military flying in general). Although each one is special in its own right, of all the memoirs I have read of those who participated in this war this text really stands out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shows the phoneyness of the Phoney War 7 May 2009
By Paul T Horgan VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
I have this book in hardback from the 1942 printing. The fact that it is still in print demonstrates the quality of the writing.

The author was a pilot in No 1 squadron, posted to France in 1939. In the original book he was anonymous, presumably for security reasons. I was happy to discover via the internet that he survived the war.

The author vividly describes life in France during the Phoney War, that period, from September 1939 to May 1940 when there was not much fighting taking place, especially on the Western Front. Or so it seemed. No 1 squadron was regularly in action, shooting down a number of German bombers and fighters sent on reconnaissance and harassment raids. The squadron gave more than they got and gave the lie to the supposed invincibility of the Luftwaffe.

During the Battle of France they stood against the massed bomber formations and the fact that they sometime found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time demonstrates how vital radar was during the Battle of Britain. Richey covers the battle fairly and accurately and shows that it was not a one-sided fight, at least in the air.

This book in no way comes over as a propaganda piece but as an authentic account of the RAF in the early stages of the war. For me it was a delightful discovery and a book to treasure. Most air war books focus on events from the Battle of Britain onwards as if the allied military machine only really got into swing after the shock defeat of France in 1940. This book redresses the balance, certainly from the RAF's point of view, and shows that Britain was the first serious opposition to German ambitions after the domino-like actions of its continental allies and neutrals.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable - absolutely brilliant 15 Aug 2001
Format:Hardcover
This book covers the often forgotten air war over France in 1940, which preceded the Battle of Britain.
I cannot praise "Fighter Pilot" too highly. Written by a pilot who served throughout WWII it is a vivid and often moving first-hand account of the tragedies and exhilaration experienced by those of the RAF who supported the British Expeditionary Force.
I have read quite a few books covering the same ground and none come close to this.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful first-hand accounts
Wonderful first-hand accounts. It's all been said, by other reviewers. However - dare I put a caveat on any such indefectible hero - the writing does not equal Geoffrey Wellum's... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Chase Review
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on the battle of Britian I have read
Paul's clear and concise gallop throught the dark days of the collapse and rout of the French Armies and AirForce is well covered. Read more
Published 5 months ago by J. R. Bell
5.0 out of 5 stars A nostalgic read
Read this as a boy at school & enjoyed it even more years later. Quick delivery & at the price it was great to be able to re-read without breaking the bank.
Published 15 months ago by The Edge
5.0 out of 5 stars You can smell the petrol
Fighter Pilot was written by a young Paul Richey in 1940, originally from his diary and then-recent recollections. Read more
Published on 23 Feb 2011 by John Middleton
4.0 out of 5 stars Fighter Pilot
This is a book which concentrates on a very short period of aerial warfare early in World War II. It is an excellent book. Read more
Published on 31 Jan 2011 by fadingcraft
4.0 out of 5 stars Honest book
A simply written and wonderful, personal and honest narrative about a fighter pilot life in France 1940. Read more
Published on 20 Nov 2010 by Aldonio Silva
5.0 out of 5 stars A book and its cover
One might think that a book simply titled 'Fighter Pilot' might be just another of the type; not so. Read more
Published on 26 Aug 2010 by R. A. Fallows
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