My lifelong dream of flying a Spitfire has been realized; if not in fact, then certainly by reading this wonderful book.
What more can one ask from a story? While reading I am humbled, proud, heartsick, joyous, angry, philosophical, ambivalent, bored, excited.
I realize that we owe the continuance of Western Civilization to the incredible effort made by people such as Mr. Wellum. I know that the United States might well have been conquered by the Nazis, if not for the supreme effort by the Few. The Holocaust would have been completed, the Nazis would have probably developed the atomic bomb first, Russia would have likely fallen, and the Japanese and Germans would have shaken hands in Asia.
I have always been impressed by the simple, unyielding character of the British. Even in fiction, J.R.R. Tolkien (who apparently fought in WWI), summed it up when he had Gandalf say to the Balrog, "You cannot pass." ("You shall not pass" in the movie version). In his book, Wellum says the same thing to his Nazi adversaries: you were not invited here, you are not welcome here, and you shall go no further. Not a mere threat, it was a promise.
I was totally immersed, more than ever before, in the fights that Wellum described. I have read quite a few accounts of dogfights, and this book outdoes them all. Even the innocuous, seemingly random thoughts while Geoff is flying rings true, especially when he describes his wonderment at having such thoughts at strange times. He even describes his curiousity at what his squadron-mates would think if they knew what he was thinking. Seldom do we get such a detailed glimpse into a figther pilot's stream of consciousness, from wide-angle to extreme pin-point thinking.
Thank you, Geoff, for what you did, what you gave, what you endured, and the price that you paid. There are those of us who will make sure that you and your lads will not be forgotten.