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LAWRENCE OF ARABIA’S SECRET AIR FORCE

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    Posted: 27 Apr 2011 at 12:41

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA’S SECRET AIR FORCE

James Patrick Hynes MA

Click on the cover to buy from Amazon!

Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 47 Church Street, Barnsley S70 2AS.

160pp, 160×245mm, hardback.

ISBN 978-1848-842663, £19.99

 
The author’s uncle, Flight Sergeant George Hynes, was an aircraft mechanic and kept a diary of his experiences in 1917/8 in the Middle East. He served with 14 Squadron X Flight, which was the Secret Air Force of the title. The story has been fleshed out with the Flight’s weekly operational records. I found it all rather confusing. First, I am not sure why, if it was secret, they allowed an American newspaper reporter and his cameraman access to their base. Admittedly, the RAF Paymaster was conveniently unaware of their existence! Second the combination of diary and operational records leads at times to confusion, most incidents being recounted at least twice. The story of the capture of a Turkish pilot brought down by Arab ground fire is told three times. This is a shame because family history of this kind is very important, and Hynes was an able and lucid observer of life in the desert. Therefore, the diary extracts are much better reading than the operational reports.

There are also some errors in the non diary part of the story; for example the Turks did not have 160 Rumplers at El Arish in 1916, but 14. The BE2e is on occasion called a 2c, and the Australian Flying Corps was never the Australian Air Force. Niggles these may be, but history must be accurate to be worthy.

Rankers’ stories are rarer than officers’ and I am disappointed with the way that this excellent one has been handled

 
GM Volume 41 Number 4


Edited by AndyK - 27 Apr 2011 at 13:50
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