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Spitfire Pilot: Roger Hall DFC [Paperback]

Roger M. D. Hall
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Sep 2013
This is the Battle of Britain memoir of Roger Hall, a 152 Squadron Spitfire pilot based in southern England, the heart of the fighting during the epic battle. Roger recounts in harrowing detail his own experience of air-to-air combat with Messerschmitt 109s and 110s, and that of his fellow pilots. Hall had no compunction in revealing his fear of wartime flying. He strips away the veneer of glory, smart uniforms and wild parties and uncovers the ordinary, very human young men who lived a life in which there was no tomorrow. There is no nostalgia here.

Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Amberley Publishing (4 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144561684X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1445616841
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 776,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'An excellent memoir... a lost classic' FLYPAST. --Flypast

About the Author

Roger Hall DFC, wrote the original draft of this book soon after the end of the war when events were still fresh in his memory. He was a long-time supporter of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust. He died in 2002.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not all it should be.......... 24 Jan 2013
By Mark S
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Roger Hall's auto-biography entitled 'Clouds of Fear' was published in 1975 and ranks amongst the most poignant of Fighter Pilot autobiographies because of its descriptiveness and the fact that Roger himself seems to have been a thoughtful and introspective individual. He overcame a mental breakdown before the outbreak of war, at least sufficiently to able to join the RAF and become a fighter pilot. That he was later taken off operational flying for good because of a recurrence of the condition makes his story all the more remarkable because he had flown operationally during the Battle of Britain through to September 1942, battling not just the Luftwaffe, but his own fears and insecurities, heightened because of his mental illness. His story deserves widespread publicity and is an essential read for anyone even remotely interested in the Battle of Britain.
So why am I ‘disappointed’ in this book – Spitfire Pilot?
Well, simply because it is an abridged version of the original book ‘Clouds of Fear’ which was difficult to fault, NOT overly technical (as has been suggested) and has a more complete story. Roger’s relationship and love for his first cousin (opposed within the family), seems to have been a partial trigger for his first breakdown and yet this isn’t covered in this version, perhaps intentionally from the point of family sensitivities, but the story is poorer because of it.
A new introduction by Geoff Simpson tells the reader what Roger did after the war and up to the time of his death in 2002 which is nice to know and the other plus is that there are a dozen or so photographs relating to Roger and then a few pages of well-known and less useful ‘filler photos’.
Perhaps this book, Spitfire Pilot was published for purely commercial reasons and its content is still essential reading, but my advice to anybody reading this review is to locate a copy of the original ‘Clouds of Fear’ and buy that instead so that you get the whole story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE PERILS OF BEING A COMBAT PILOT 7 May 2012
This is one of the most heartfelt and poignant firsthand accounts of aerial combat that I've ever read. The author, who had begun the war as an Army officer, was offered the chance to transfer to the RAF in March 1940.

Six months later, following a somewhat abbreviated flight training program, Hall was posted to a Spitfire squadron in Southern England, which was involved in the thick of the fighting against the Luftwaffe. The Battle of Britain was at its height. Hall, who barely knew how to handle a Spitfire, had to learn fast. He steadily flew combat for 3 months before the strain began to get to him. Fearful of being considered a coward, Hall volunteered for service in Northern England flying nightfighters. This he did for a time before being posted to fly Spitfires again in Southeast England.

This book is a condensed version of the one Hall had written shortly after the war, when his memories of his combat service were fresh in his mind. Thus, the reader gets a unvarnished and fully candid account of the emotional and psychological pressures Hall faced and how he sought to cope with his own fears and the deaths of close friends from flak, enemy fighters, or accident.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Smithy
I first read Roger Hall's "Clouds of Fear" in 2003 and I was absolutely stunned by the descriptions of air combat in his memoir to the extent of writing a review of the book (see my review here at amazon.co.uk). When I heard that Roger's writings were due to be rereleased I was thrilled, although when I received the new rendition I realised that this edition had been edited, which at first worried me - I'm never a great fan of cut down or reduced editions. However looking at this new version now, I'm not disappointed. the original "Clouds of Fear" included much of Roger's writings about his initial experiences in the Army before transferring to the RAF whereas this is a far more concentrated edition, focusing on his experiences as a fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain and immediately afterwards.

However what really sets Roger's recountings apart are his unbelievable documentations of aerial fighting. I have read many, many pilot memoirs from WWII but without doubt his accounts of the actual actions are almost beyond compare. These passages are visceral, heart-pounding and so involved and expertly recounted that (cliche aside) the reader really does feel as if they are in the cockpit whilst reading. And this quite simply is the true worth of this book. Yes, it's a shorter account than Roger's initial 1975 memoir but in some ways this is stronger and more concentrated because of the fact that much of the "non-Battle of Britain" sections have been ommitted.

I gave "Clouds of Fear" four stars in my amazon.co.uk review and yet I give this new revised edition five. Perhaps sometimes less is more?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Battle of Britain memoirs 14 Mar 2013
Roger Hall's story is a fascinating one. Most World War Two pilot memoirs are written by top aces. Roger Hall's story is quite different. He was a very accomplished combat pilot given that he won the DFC. However, he waged a constant struggle against the mental strain of combat. Eventually, he lost that struggle and was removed from flying status, never to return. His was a very different experience than you find in the typical pilot memoir.

As an air combat memoir, this book is first-rate. Not all great pilots are great writers, but Roger Hall certainly is. I would say that I have never read more absorbing descriptions of air combat than Roger Hall's, and I've read plenty. He had much to write about, as he was in a Spitfire squadron during the Battle of Britain, then flew a Defiant night fighter, and finally ended up back in a Spitfire squadron during the cross-channel sweeps of 1941.

This is an outstanding book, and very unique. You won't read anything else quite like it. If you enjoy reading about the Battle of Britain, and air combat in general, this one is a must-read.
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