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on 21 September 2013
To those who, like me, have always believed that Capt ('Biggles') Bigglesworth's ability to crash his aeroplane amongst the Front-Line trenches and survive was unbelieveable; here is the story of the man who did just that, and more. I do not think that there can be any doubt that many of Biggles's fictional escapades are based upon the actual life of Arthur Gould Lee.
Biggles may have sustained the fascination with primitive air warfare during the intervening period; but it is this book, No Parachute, that finally reveals that it was all true and helps to unravel some of the unanswered questions, which have been raised in all our minds.
The Author acknowledges that he eventually attained that degree of skill and instinct necessary to survive in aerial combat; but that luck remained the key factor in selecting him as a survivor. The nervous exhaustion, which is only alluded-to in Biggles's story, is soberly acknowledged here; as is the ability of one's Comrades or Commanding Officer to recognise it more clearly than one could oneself. Arthur Gould Lee was a lucky man to emerge with his MC and the rest of his life, to enjoy.
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on 4 July 2014
The author draws you in to the way life was in the RFC of WW1. In his letters to his wife, A G Lee is proud of being with his fellow pilots whilst modestly recounting his own actions, admitting his fears as well as his excitement and, at times, elation. The undiluted bravery of all WW1 pilots shouts at you from the pages yet is not stated as such. Air war at 20,000 feet in 1917, flying a glorified kite, in an open cockpit, the face smeared in whale grease as protection against frostbite, no oxygen equipment, a dodgy canon that frequently jammed which had to be hit with a hammer to free the jam whilst engaged in a dogfight and, most significantly, no parachute! I found it almost impossible to put down.
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on 5 September 2014
One of the aviation classics, the author fluently describes the rapid learn-or-die life of new pilots at a time when they flew outclassed aircraft on the offensive against better opposition including the Richthofen 'Circus'. He was undoubtedly lucky, very lucky, to survive several engine failures far over the lines, and being shot down on at least 3 occasions in the space of about a fortnight, crashing into front-line trenches. He describes his failing health, nerves and what we'd now call 'combat fatigue'. If you are interested in this book, you should also read Cecil Lewis 'Saggitarius Rising'.
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on 16 June 2016
This is the best WW1 aviation book I have ever read and it has completely changed my perception and understanding of the period and events.
It is beautifully-written and easily readable.
There are enough pictures to support the literature but not too many.
I immediately ordered "Open Cockpit" by the same author.
He has had a unique experience in the air during that time having survived countless close-shaves; but fortunately is here to relate them and put it all into perspective.
His accounts are balanced and relevant.
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on 24 June 2014
This is a wonderful account of life as a pilot in WW1. Written in letters and a diary at the time it is an account of the daily life and covers the mix of intense air battles and the long boring patrols where nothing happened. Add into this the fragility of the planes and the randomness of battle damage it's no surprise that pilot's often didn't survive long. They knew this, but the desire to do their bit for country kept their morale going. A great read, couldn't put it down!
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on 18 May 2017
A fascinating book. My old paperback copy fell apart years ago so I.m glad to be able to obtain the Kindle edition. If you read Winged Victory by V M Yeates - an excellent, fictionalized account of his war experiences - you will probably recognize some incidents recounted by A G Lee. It appears that Yeates served in 46 Squadron at much the same time as A G Lee.
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on 19 August 2014
Sjould be read by all WW1 aircraft enthusiasts. Most books are written about the Aces, but this one give you a genuine feel for what it was like going out day after day in inferior equipment against an enemy who was reluctant to venture over allied lines. Having said that it is a remarkable tribute to the Britsih pilots that they were able to survive in their 80hp Sopwith Pups against 160hp Albatros D111's.
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on 29 June 2014
For me this is the first-hand record that says it all. Arthur Gould Lee tells his story with the simple honesty of a young pilot writing home to his wife. This was my principal research source when writing The Larks, so much so that Lee makes a brief cameo appearance in my novel.
Having spent fortunes on disintegrating second hand copies of this book I'm delighted to see it back in print.
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on 30 January 2015
Makes you want to go back in time and strangle the top brass whose stupidity led to many brave men falling or burning to their deaths because they had no parachutes, which had been available since 1912.
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on 26 April 2014
I found this book extremely interesting . It is written in a very clear style from diaries he kept at the time when he flew in 1917 to 1918. I recommend it highly.
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