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Lawrence of Arabia's Secret Air Force: Based on the Diary of Flight Sergeant George Hynes [Hardcover]

James Patrick Hynes
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 19.99
Price: 19.07 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

30 Aug 2010
X Flight was designated the task of giving close air support to the desert army formed and commanded by Lawrence of Arabia. It flew from advanced desert landing grounds on reconnaissance, liaison, bombing and ground attack missions. The existence and deeds of the flight were kept secret, so much so that even the RFC Paymaster was unaware of their existence. George Hynes was an aircraft mechanic and became responsible for keeping the flight s somewhat elderly aircraft airworthy whilst working in the most difficult desert conditions on hastily constructed landing strips and living and working under canvas in temperatures that froze at night and rose to 100 degrees plus at noon. His diary gives a clear insight into the conditions endured, the actions that took place and the many almost insurmountable problems that occurred as they followed Lawrence s steady advance against the numerically superior Turkish Army and Air Force. George personally encountered Lawrence on many occasions and maintained contact with him after the war. The diary is supported with the Flights weekly operational records, perspectives of the battle scenarios and other background information

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 146 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation; First Edition edition (30 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184884266X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848842663
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 216,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading for first-hand accounts 21 Sep 2011
Lawrence of Arabia's Secret Air force is the story of George Hynes, an aircraft mechanic attached to X Flight in Aqaba. The dry and terse accounts in the official War Diaries were carefully written in difficult conditions and it is regrettable that the same care was not applied to the transcriptions used for this book. I noticed several errors. Captain Furness-Williams was not in the Turkish garrison of Ma'an on 4 March 1918; he was at Aqaba. Captain Siddons wrote his report for the week-ending 10 March in 1918, not 1928. The description of the Ma'an landscape is unrecognisable to anyone who has actually been there. And so on.
However, the errors have to be endured for the comprehensive and detailed first-hand accounts written by George Hynes. These give an astonishingly detailed view of what life was really like, not just the hardships of desert warfare, but also the lighter moments that made life bearable. One of these accounts concerns the Commanding Officer flying from Aqaba to Suez and back on Christmas Day in 1917 with crates of beer strapped to the bomb-racks of his machine for the men and bottles of whisky for the officers.
Despite some of its shortcomings the book is worth reading for the insight it provides into the life of the `other ranks' during one of the first desert air-wars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Words of a man who was there 20 Aug 2011
I was intrigued by the title 'Secret Air Force' and was pleased to learn something new about a famous figure, as recorded by someone who worked with him. I liked the fact that Flight Sergeant Hynes' words were quoted so often; it was like listening to him in person. I found the narrative unobtrusive and perfectly clear. I don't generally like to read military history but this was an important departure from "official history"; it's enlightening to read about a well-known event from the point of view of an ordinary man.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Living in Dorset I feel drawn towards the T E Lawrence story and I must say that this well researched book puts a whole different slant on it. A must for all T E Lawrence followers.
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3.0 out of 5 stars 14 squadron 30 Dec 2012
By ms
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you are interested in researching 14 squadron RFC as I was, then this is an interesting book as it sheds light on the RFCs air operations against the Turks, from the view of a mechanic. However, it is not brilliantly written and I found it tiresome to first read what the author says his relative - who's diaries are the subject of the book - is going to say, and then reading the same thing as a diary extract. However, some good research items from RFC archives, and a lot of interesting info on T E Lawrence. One thing bothers me; the book is about 'X Flight' of 14 Squadron, a supposed 'secret' flight set up as Lawrence's private air force, but apart from a few references to inaccuracies in official documents relating to individuals being in certain places at certain times, I can't see anything to support the premise that this was a 'secret' outfit. Why should it be secret? There is very little written about 14 squadron anyway, so it is a useful book that fills in some gaps.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lawrence of Arabia's Secret Air Force 16 Aug 2011
A thoroughly disappointing volume. A fascinating subject,but allowing for the work being a transcript of a war-diary and thus a series of dated notes on the squadron's activity, it is not led by clear comment or linking text. The English is poor, seemingly as infection from the ill-educated Airman. There are few photographs. Not one to enhance Pen & Sword's reputation.
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