First Light Paperback
Part of the Penguin World War II Collection series
Two months before the outbreak of the Second World War, seventeen-year-old Geoffrey Wellum becomes a fighter pilot with the RAF . . .Desperate to get in the air, he makes it through basic training to become the youngest Spitfire pilot in the prestigious 92 Squadron.
Thrust into combat almost immediately, Wellum finds himself flying several sorties a day, caught up in terrifying dogfights with German Me 109s.
Over the coming months he and his fellow pilots play a crucial role in the Battle of Britain.
But of the friends that take to the air alongside Wellum many never return.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 352 pages, 16pp
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 06/08/2009
- Category: Autobiography: historical, political & military
- ISBN: 9780141042756
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- Hardback from £14.50
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Review by Gary-Bonn
I thought I had read every first-hand account of the Battle of Britain. For some mysterious reason family, extended family, friends and enemies think I like them and fill my bookshelves.This one came as a surprise. Written maybe fifty years after, the author wrote at a time the culture of the UK had changed and it was quite acceptable to talk about feelings, thoughts and emotions. The stiff upper lip had relaxed.That makes this book unique – and important.Yes, not many people understand the incredible inner battle that goes on inside you when forced to go by instruments alone: when every instinct tells you they are incorrect. Listen to your instincts as they scream at you that the horizon can’t possibly be there, ‘up’ has to be the other way – and you’re dead.Written from old notes and memories Geoffrey ‘Boy’ Wellum takes the reader through the height of the battle and out the other side – both you and he emerging in one piece though shaken, exhausted and with no little need for a pint of beer and a quiet stream to walk beside.He is breathtakingly good at taking you into the nightmare realm of emotions he experienced while in combat, learning to fly or flying in appalling conditions.Thank you, Geoffrey, for not only an outstanding read but also for the best account of the battle I’ve ever read.