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Printed From: Cross & Cockade
Category: Book Reviews
Forum Name: WW1 Aviation
Forum Discription: Books on WW1 Aviation
Printed Date: 22 Mar 2023 at 09:55
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 10.03 -

Posted By: AndyK
Date 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

Posted By: MarkT
Date Posted: 18 Apr 2009 at 10:03

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


Posted By: Adrian Roberts
Date 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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