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Winged Victor

by Gordon Atkin

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Winged Victor is a biography of Victor Maslin Yeates, a World War One Sopwith Camel pilot with Nos 46 & 80 Squadrons, whose novel Winged Victory is widely considered to be one of the classics of aerial warfare in the Great War.

It is often quoted as an authoritative source as Yeates relied heavily on his own experiences of flying on the Western Front in 1918 during the German ‘March Push’ and the Allied offensive in August.

Yeates wrote the book hoping to provide funds to maintain his wife and four children when he became incapable of working due to TB, attributable to the strain of combat flying during the war. Written whilst he was in and out of sanatoriums, Winged Victory was finally published in June 1934, just six months before his death.

With the co-operation of his three surviving children who have provided access to family papers, Winged Victor also explores the factual aspects of Yeates’ book through a detailed examination of his log book entries, letters to his family and the official Squadron records held in the National Archives. The original manuscripts of both Winged Victory and Family Life (a novel he was writing when he died) are deposited with The University of Texas at Austin and these have also been consulted.

This research gives an insight into how Yeates’ novel became to be written, from the original suggestion by his old school friend, the author Henry Williamson, to its eventual publications some fourteen months later, when it received high praise from T.E Lawrence.

Guy Yeates, Victor’s son, has written the Foreword, and the book is illustrated with a map and over 70 photographs, many of which have not been published before. An important inclusion if the Appendices is the text of a previously unseen chapter of Winged Victory omitted from the original publication.

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