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AndyK View Drop Down
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Joined: 26 Mar 2009
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    Posted: 27 Mar 2009 at 13:00
SAILOR IN THE AIR: The Memoirs of the World’s First Carrier Pilot
by Richard Bell Davies
Sailor in the Air
Click on the cover to buy from Amazon!
Seaforth Publishing, an imprint of Pen & Sword as above. 264pp, softback.
ISBN 9781848320116, ₤9.99
This is not yet available as I write, but I have the original published in 1972, and can thoroughly recommend it. The author started in the Royal Navy at the very end of sail training, learnt to fly, won the VC in the Gallipoli campaign, and spent most of the rest of his service life formulating, and fighting for, the Fleet Air Arm. He was astonishingly busy, met everybody, and was a rare combination of effective staff officer and fighting man. Not only is this book an important piece of aviation history, it is also an interesting social account of service and civilian life through most of the twentieth century. A good read, although the illustrations (in the original) leave much to be desired.
GM, Volume 40 Number 1

Edited by AndyK - 22 Jun 2009 at 15:11
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MarkT View Drop Down

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MarkT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2009 at 10:03

Just a small correction, Sailor in the Air was first published in 1967.

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Adrian Roberts View Drop Down

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adrian Roberts Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Apr 2009 at 01:33
I also have the original (published just after Bell-Davies' death in 1967, as Mark says), and I also thoroughly recommend it. It is a fascinating account of Naval life, especially in the first decade of the 20th-century, with many personal  anecdotes. Although he learned to fly at Eastchurch before WW1, and was the first pilot to land on an aircraft carrier with a full-length deck (HMS Argus), he elected to stay in the Navy after the war rather than take a commission in the RAF.
He was matter-of-fact about his Victoria Cross action, as most recipients were. As with most first-hand accounts, there are a few discrepancies; for instance his account of the Tondern raid differs in some details from the official version. But still, well-worth snapping up when the new edition comes out.
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