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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jolly decent, 15 Oct 2008
This review is from: Fighter Pilot (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) (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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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 (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fighter Pilot (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) (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 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Contemporary Account of the Air War in France May 1940, 10 July 2002
By 
A. Palmer (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fighter Pilot (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
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This review is from: Fighter Pilot (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) (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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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable - absolutely brilliant, 15 Aug 2001
By 
Philip Ward (West Sussex, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fighter Pilot (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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4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful first-hand accounts, 7 July 2014
This review is from: Fighter Pilot (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) (Paperback)
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 'First Light', presented (as in the film) with such humility.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on the battle of Britian I have read, 21 Mar 2014
By 
J. R. Bell "History Buff" (Hampshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fighter Pilot (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) (Paperback)
Paul's clear and concise gallop throught the dark days of the collapse and rout of the French Armies and AirForce is well covered. The complete disgrace that befell France in 1940 is well portrayed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A nostalgic read, 5 May 2013
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This review is from: Fighter Pilot (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) (Paperback)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You can smell the petrol, 23 Feb 2011
By 
John Middleton (Brisbane, QLD, AUST) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fighter Pilot (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) (Paperback)
Fighter Pilot was written by a young Paul Richey in 1940, originally from his diary and then-recent recollections. It was first published (anonymously) during WWII, and this 1969 edition contains a number of references to update the original text, including the war exploits of some pilots who grace its pages. It is a memoir of the Battle of France from the point of view of a Hurricane pilot with 1 Squadron. Air combat, victories, the loss of friends and comrades, and being shot down and "bailing out" are all described in painful, vivid first-person detail.

This is an important book as it is a more or less contemporaneous historical record, and rather than ignoring or soft-pedalling the Battle of France, it is the focus of the book (Richey was wounded and unable to fly during the Battle of Britain). Indeed, the book ends with Richey being flown home to England, and was subsequently collated while Richey was recuperating while the fate of England hung in the balance.

In a way, this book shows us the last of the pre-war RAF, and the beginnings of the recognition of total war rather than the chivalry of the air. There are stories of unreal leave in Paris amid the war, and without it being Richey's intent, we are shown a world in transition.

The recollections of air combat are detailed and confused all at the same time, but unlike many WWII stories, this one has the benefit of immediacy: there is little or no hindsight to colour memories or aid interpretation of events: there is little discussion of the big picture: the big picture, as far as Richey was concerned, was his own little square of sky.

Really, this book should be required reading for anyone interested in the Battle of Britain, not because it covers the Battle, but because it sets the scene perfectly.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fighter Pilot, 31 Jan 2011
This review is from: Fighter Pilot (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) (Paperback)
This is a book which concentrates on a very short period of aerial warfare early in World War II. It is an excellent book. Putting the reader in the hot seat, as it were, as a descriptive narrative of dog fights over France and the English Channel it can hardly be bettered. Even the tense periods of waiting for action and the protagonists' leisure time are well and graphically described. If the author comes across as a little immodest, it is hardly surprising given his almost superhuman achievements and those of his close comrades. The book gives the layman who has never sat in the cockpit of a Hurricane a true feel for the splitsecond "organised chaos" of fighter squadrons in action and the strange and gallant respect with which flyers from both sides in the contest held each other. For this alone it is a very worthwhile read. However, it is not intended to be, nor is it,a complete history of the RAF's BEF air component and advanced air striking force in the Battle of France, and a reader who is not generally aware of the details of the war on the ground might struggle to understand the background to all the seemingly frenzied reorganizations and relocation of squadrons and operating bases in the latter stages of the RAF's withdrawal prior to the BEF's evacuation and the imminent fall of France.
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Fighter Pilot (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS)
Fighter Pilot (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) by Paul Richey (Paperback - 12 Sep 2002)
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