14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Classic Air War memoir, 27 Feb 2011
Arguably one of the very best firsthand descriptions of WWII air combat ever written, now back in print with a new foreword and historical resume. Denis Barnham describes what it was like to be a 22-yr-old Spitfire pilot fighting against greatly superior forces in the skies over Malta in 1942. He was an art student when he signed up to fly in the RAF early in the Second World War and his outstanding drawings illustrate the book, along with many photographs. After initial training to fly Spitfires he was posted to Malta at a time when swarms of German bombers, defended by legions of Me 109s, were devastating the island which occupies a crucial strategic position at the western end of the Mediterranean. The casualty rate amongst the small band of pilots was enormous and only the very skilful and the lucky survived. What distinguishes this account, first published in 1956 as One Man's Window, is not only the quality of the writing but the exceptional sensitivity of the writer/artist to the dire circumstances in which the participants found themselves. Denis was not by any means a typical fighter pilot although he was clearly a very good one. His overwhelming love of art and his fundamentally philosophical nature pervade his writing. It is quite likely that his experiences on Malta permanently affected his later life and he died relatively young after retiring early from his art teaching career. This book deserves to be a bestseller.