First Light

First Light

4.41 (1,204 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Audio cassette
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This is the memoir of a young man (17 years old when the story begins) who enlisted into the RAF weeks before the outbreak of World War II. We follow Geoffrey's progress through the demanding early stages of his training: he was distinctly below average and was reminded of this continually. He was obviously a sensitive young man and pressure on him tells. As the war raged in the air over the channel, Geoffrey, by then an 18-year-old spitfire fighter pilot with minimal experience, was posted to a squadron based on the south coast. He remained here for two years and despite the appalling casualty rate - friends disappearing almost after every sortie - he became a brave, decorated fighter pilot. Running through the book are his inner feelings - angst, bravado, comradeship - and it is this powerfully evoked sense of self that is one of the most moving aspects of the book. Geoffrey describes his first flights in a spitfire, as well as his first experience of aerial battle and one dreadful sortie over the English Channel where his radio broke and he was coping with thunderstorm, cloud and German planes.
Finally in the writing one begins to see, through small references at first, the effect on Geoffrey of this endless stress and tiredness. He began to doubt himself, things went wrong and finally he snapped.
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Product details

  • Audio cassette | 2 pages
  • 106 x 134 x 18mm | 140.62g
  • Penguin Audiobooks
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Abridged
  • Abridged edition
  • 014180484X
  • 9780141804842

Review quote

"An extraordinary, deeply moving and astonishingly evocative story. Reading it, you feel you are in the Spitfire with him, at 20,000 feet, chased by a German Heinkel, with your ammunition gone." Independent
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About Geoffrey Wellum

Geoffrey Wellum joined the RAF in August 1939 and served with 92 Squadron throughout the Battle of Britain. In 1942 he went to 65 Squadron at Debden as a Flight Commander and from there to Malta later that year. He led 8 Spitfires off HMS Furious to Luqa during Operation Pedestal. He now lives in Mullion in Cornwall and has three children.
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Rating details

1,204 ratings
4.41 out of 5 stars
5 57% (685)
4 30% (367)
3 10% (122)
2 2% (22)
1 1% (8)
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