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review 2017-12-01 14:13
PERILS OF A PILOT IN WARTIME
The Diary of Sonny Ormrod DFC: Malta Fighter Ace - Brian Cull,Frederick Galea

"Sonny" Ormrod epitomized both the unflinchingly honest and scrupulous diarist, as well as the dedicated & courageous fighter pilot. During his service in the Royal Air Force (RAF) - which he joined soon after finishing school in 1940, age 18 - Ormrod kept several diaries, detailing his experiences and impressions of his fellow pilots. It was his intention to make those diaries into a memoir after the war. Thus, this book by Brian Cull constitutes a belated (though abridged) memoir.

The book takes the reader from October 1941 - when Ormrod was in the UK with 605 Squadron awaiting an imminent posting overseas - to April 1942 - when Ormrod was serving with 185 Squadron on the besieged Mediterranean island of Malta. Not many people perhaps know that, at one point during the Second World War, Malta was the most heavily bombed piece of real estate on earth. It was the lynch pin in Britain's efforts to retain a presence in North Africa and the Mediterranean against the Axis Powers. From Malta, British air and naval vessels would harry German and Italian ships sending supplies to Rommel in the Western Desert during the height of the fighting there in 1941-42.

Ormrod arrived in Malta with 605 Squadron during November 1941. At the time Italy's Regia Aeronautica alone was bombing Malta, which the British were generally able to cope with. The Luftwaffe, who had had a presence over Malta earlier that year, had withdrawn its units to take part in Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. This somewhat relieved the pressure on Malta for several months. As a result, sinkings of German and Italian ships became almost prohibitive to the Axis, so both the Germans and Italians resolved to destroy Malta through air assault. This is reflected in Ormrod's diary from December 1941 onwards, when the Luftwaffe returned to assist the Regia Aeronautica in trying to neutralize Malta.

Indeed, for Ormrod and his comrades, their job of helping to defend the island became an increasingly difficult and perilous undertaking. (The Maltese people also suffered greatly. Nevertheless, they endured the increasingly daily bombings from January 1942 with good grace. Ormrod's descriptions of the island, both aloft and on the ground, made tangibly real for me the stresses and horrors of what it must have been like to be in Malta at that stage of the war.)

Many pilots like Ormrod bravely and faithfully met their responsibilities, while others were malingerers and made excuses not to fly on certain missions. This angered Ormrod and several diary passages reflect his disgust and disdain for those squadron mates who were willful shirkers. Flying Hawker Hurricane fighters, they were outmatched in terms of performance and speed by the latest German and Italian fighters: the Messerschmitt 109F and the Macchi MC 202, respectively. One passage for me - from Tuesday, April 14, 1942 - illustrates the challenges and terrors of trying to cope with the daily attacks by what were now swarms of enemy aircraft:

"[Wigley - one of Ormrod's closest friends] landed with but eight gallons of petrol remaining. His bravery and contempt for the enemy almost at times approaches madness. If ever a pilot in this war deserved a DFC [Distinguished Flying Cross], I consider Plt. Off. Wigley to deserve one. No odds deter him. Whose courage surpasses his? Few could out-fly him. Yet since he has not an aircraft in which now here it can well be done, he is unlikely to win a DFC because he is unlikely to win six confirmed victories. Most probably some newly arrived Spitfire pilot, who has never taken the odds that Wigley has, nor at such a disadvantage will, if he has the luck and a little skill, mount a score of six soon, be awarded a DFC and acknowledged by the world as Wigley's superior; a hero of the Malta battles. Hurricanes without speed and cannon cannot hope, except rarely, to bring down fast and heavily armoured German aircraft. Whereas the Spitfires can do it often in spite of the opportunities their pilots waste. This is our moan. We love the old Hurricane that has carried us gallantly and saved us on innumerable occasions but we know that old age has now overcome it."

Sadly, Ormrod's luck would run out 8 days later, on his 20th birthday.

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review 2017-10-29 01:36
Spirit of the Blue: A Fighter Pilot's Story - Hugh Thomas

Peter Ayerst led a unique and varied career as a Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot. He joined the RAF in 1938 and was the recipient of a thorough, peacetime flight training program. 

Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, Ayerst was posted to France with No. 73 Squadron, flying the Hawker Hurricane fighter. He saw extensive action against the Luftwaffe during the 'Phoney War' period (which lasted up to May 10, 1940, when Germany launched its Blitzkrieg against Western Europe), the Battle of France, the Dunkirk Evacuation, and the Battle of Britain.

Following the conclusion of the Battle of Britain, Ayerst was given flight instructor duties in the UK, which he carried out til he was posted to serve with a Hurricane squadron in North Africa in September 1942. He went on to fly combat missions over France in the aftermath of the D-Day landings, and finished the war flying bomber escort missions. 

Ayerst was part of a rare breed of RAF fighter pilots who had seen action throughout the war. In peacetime, he became a test pilot and carried out administrative and command duties til he retired from the RAF on May 5, 1973. All in all, this is a good book for any aviation enthusiast. 

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review 2017-06-20 12:16
Shock value
Concourse - Santino Hassell

This is book #5 in the Five Boroughs series.  This book can be read as a standalone novel.  For read understanding, and to avoid spoilers, I recommend reading this compelling series in order.

 

Valdrin AKA Val is Ashton's best friend since childhood.  Val is finding he has sincere feelings for his favorite guy, but he is constantly forced to be in a parental role with him.  He thinks he should try to separate himself from the equation, but Ashton won't let him go easily.

 

Ashton has knows he has been in love with Val since gradeschool.  His family welcomed him more than his own.  Now there relationship is in confused tatters.  Is it possible to get back in sync?  Should he take a chance and admit how he feels?

 

This series is so intense.  Each book with such an amazing story of its own.  I loved these characters right from the get go.  They want the same thing, just have to work it out somehow.  Cameo's by favorites from past books make this a must read!  I give this story a 3/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

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review 2017-06-18 01:17
The Jagged Edge of Duty: A Fighter Pilot's World War II - Robert L. Richardson

"THE JAGGED EDGE OF DUTY: A Fighter Pilot's World War II" resulted from the extensive efforts made by the author (Robert Richardson) to tell the story of Lt. Allan Knepper of Lewiston, Idaho, along with his friend Herman Kocour, a fellow flight school classmate with whom he later served in the same combat unit overseas. Knepper, a university graduate and schoolteacher, had joined the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) as an Aviation Cadet shortly after the U.S. had entered the Second World War. He was already a licensed pilot through having received his training via the Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) program. Both he and Kocour successfully completed their training as fighter pilots, and after receiving transition training in handling the sleek and powerful twin-engined P-38 Lightning fighter, were sent overseas to North Africa in the Spring of 1943. There, both men were assigned to the 14th Fighter Group, a P-38 unit that had recently been withdrawn from combat owing to heavy losses it had sustained in action. Within a short time, both men would be flying long-range missions against the Axis over the Mediterranean in preparation for the Allied invasion of the island of Sicily, which took place on July 10, 1943.

Richardson provides information about the types of missions flown by the 14th Fighter Group at the time Knepper and Kocour served with it, USAAF tactics and strategy as they were evolving during 1942-43 in North Africa and the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO), some aspects of the war itself, as well as descriptions of the day-to-day stresses experienced by several other pilots in the unit.

Sadly, Knepper's war proved to be short one. His P-38 was downed by ground fire while flying a low-level strafing mission over Sicily against a German Army unit on July 10, 1943. Neither his body nor any wreckage of his plane was ever found.

Richardson also goes on to describe postwar efforts that have been made - and continue to be made - to find Knepper's remains.

While I cannot recommend "The Jagged Edge of Duty" to the general reader, I think anyone with an interest in World War II and combat aviation would enjoy reading it. He/she will learn something of what the average P-38 fighter pilot in the MTO experienced while on active duty during the spring and summer of 1943 as the Allies began their push from North Africa into Europe - with Sicily as the vital stepping-stone.

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review 2017-04-07 02:30
Save me
Fighting Attraction - Sarah Castille

This is book #4, in the Redemption series.  This book can be read as a standalone novel.  For reader understanding and enjoyment, I recommend reading this great series in order.

Jack AKA Rampage is the hottest fighter Penny can see.  She sees quote a lot, actually.  She sees the real him, the one behind the man everyone thinks he is.  She is his greatest friend, and yet she can also be his greatest weakness.

Penny is not sure what to say or do.  When it comes to Rampage, she is seriously attracted.  She also gets seriously angry.  He knows her secret, but can she trust him with her past?  The attraction between them is getting so strong, it may cause the spark to ignite.

This story just starts off with such electricity!  You feel the powerful pull between the main characters right from the beginning.  I loved the humor, the heat, and the banter.  This was a great addition to the Redemption series.  I give this book a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!


***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review by Netgalley and its publishers.

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