Most helpful positive review
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An excellent combination by former teacher and pupil!
on 9 February 2014
In 1940, at the age of 19, Arthur Aldridge quit Oxford and promptly joined the RAF. After pilot training he was assigned to the Bristol Beaufort which were equipped with torpedoes and bombs. Over the following two years this man saw far more than his fair share of active service and, today, he and his former gunner Bill Carroll are two of the last remaining Torpedo Flyers still alive. During that service, Aldridge received his first DFC for continuing the attack on the German cargo ship SS Madrid, was equally lucky to survive the attack on those German warships during the famous `Channel Dash' - in which 40 RAF aircraft were shot down, and earned his second DFC in the defence of Malta where he sank two enemy ships and rescued a fellow wounded pilot whilst under heavy fire. He is also the man who finally sank the Reichenfels and, in so doing, made a significant difference to the war in North Africa!
Those, however, are just the headlines to his war service which included far more than his own fair share of action.
The book itself is carefully divided into 24 chapters which take the reader on a fascinating roller-coaster ride of excitement from beginning to end. These, however, are preceded by a Prologue in which the action commences immediately with an example of what this particular life at war was really like. I shall not enlarge on those chapters - except to say that it was the RAF's Bristol Beaufort Torpedo Bombers which were given missions so dangerous they were actually likened to the `Kamikaze' - with many aircrew entering their aircraft certain they would not return.
Little wonder Aldridge makes the poignant - and very understanding, comment; "Only the names of those who had come off flying due to the strain and horror of war have been changed. None will receive condemnation or judgement here."
And that is another way of saying; if you haven't lived through it, you cannot possibly understand it!
Altogether, I found the work to be of the highest possible calibre. It is a very personal story which is well told without portraying the main subject as a hero but instead as an ordinary man simply doing his job. Well supported with a collection of 24 historic B&W glossy photographs placed together in the middle of the book, I was pleased to see he had included his wife of 63 years...
After leaving the RAF, Arthur Aldridge became a teacher at a boys' school in Worcester. Mark Ryan - who is a critically acclaimed author of biographies, was once one of his pupils. This collaboration is an excellent combination of their respective skills in which they provide an illuminating and very readable insight into yet another aspect of WW2.