This is a personal account of one man's war and of the aircraft in which he served. Much has been written about "fighter aces" and, as far as I am aware, to become an Ace, a pilot had to have a minimum of 5 confirmed enemy kills to his credit. Many famous pilots who claimed the Ace distinction failed to achieve such a number. Dennis Gosling received his DFC for being present as a navigator when that number of kills were confirmed.
This book takes the reader through his service, as a sergeant navigator with the Beaufighter - which includes the defence of Malta at a time when his squadron was often reduced to a single aircraft. It also includes a certain amount of ill-feeling towards the RAF and its class system for rewarding officers and not those in the ranks.
Nevertheless, he recounts the constant enemy fire, the stress of flying impossible missions and the health problems he endured whilst flying. Reduced to starvation level at one point, he is finally repatriated by way of Brazil and Canada on no less a ship than the Queen Mary after which he undertakes a spell of instructing. Promoted to Warrant Officer, he returns to active flying duties just as his squadron are equipped with Mosquitoes.
Curious how he misspells "Mosquitoes" on the book's front cover - but that is just my picky, picky nature... Inside the book he refers to these aircraft as Mossies.
This is a particularly interesting account, an intriguing work which demonstrates how the history of WW2 is still be written by those who took part and had their own peculiar role to play. It forms, therefore, an essential part of our ever-growing understanding of who did what during this time of global conflict.
on 9 February 2013
A sensitive and informative view of the war. Having met Mr Gosling, I found the book an even more fascinating read about an ordinary unassuming man, who like numerous others, were far, far more. We owe them so much.
on 24 November 2011
I have a large collection of biographies and autobiographies of pilots and aircrew of the RAF and RAAF during the Second World War.
This is amongst the best of them.
An easy to read and down to earth account of, to use a cliche, an ordinary man who did extraordinary things.
on 11 February 2013
... for both the author and myself. Dennis "Goz" Gosling is a forthright personality, as befits his Yorkshire upbringing. Fascinated with all things to do with aircraft, he served with distinction during the Second World War. What sets this autobiography apart from many others is his candid views on both the social aspects of his RAF service, and his own maturing character. He openly admits a chip on his shoulder regarding his own humble origins compared to the perceived 'privleges' of the officer 'class'. This, of course, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy until he openly admits it was largely his own misconception. It becomes sadly ironic when he finds it hard to relate to old workmates at the end of the war - because he was finally commissioned as an officer!
My uncle followed a remarkably similar path as a night fighter navigator through the same war, serving in both Egypt and Malta. He was tragically killed at Picauville in 1944, where the author was also present, albeit on a different squadron.
This book not only allowed me into Goz's life during those dark years, but also a glimpse into someone else's life ...