First Light

First Light

4.38 (1,009 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
By (author) 

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Product details

  • Hardback | 507 pages
  • Magna Large Print Books
  • Long Preston, United Kingdom
  • Large type / large print
  • Large Print edition
  • 0750519533
  • 9780750519533

Review Text

Early in the spring of 1939, Geoffrey Wellum applied to join the RAF. He was a sixth-former at a boarding school in the home counties, oddly unaware that war was only a few months away, and as keen as mustard to fly fighter planes. This book is his diary, the record of a teenager hastily trained and then hurled into the most devastating war in the air that the world has ever seen. Flying school is quickly dealt with, and early in 1940 the 18-year-old finds himself posted to a squadron on active service. Once he wins his coveted 'wings' he becomes part of a peripatetic outfit, 92 Squadron, and soon the squadron is in the thick of things. Wellum's enthralling memoir appears to be stitched together from notes written in the dispersal hut while edgily waiting for the order to 'scramble' and take off in a Spitfire after marauding enemy bombers and their vicious fighter support. You never, he wrote at the age of 19 (and a virgin), lose the feeling of fear, but you do become reconciled to it. 'Ops' could happen up to three times a day, and the stress on the young men was terrible, increased by the regular flow of pilots who failed to make it back to base. Once the Battle of Britain was won (and hard won, at that), Wellum went on to escort bombing squadrons into mainland Europe, with more narrow escapes that are deeply harrowing to read. When, as an old hand, he was retired from front-line service as a Flight Commander, he was just 20 years old. This is a wonderful and moving memoir: 'I feel so grateful for being one of this band of fighter pilots in this hour of our country's history,' he writes. And so should we. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

1,009 ratings
4.38 out of 5 stars
5 56% (562)
4 31% (310)
3 11% (108)
2 2% (20)
1 1% (9)
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