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THE IDEALS AND TRAINING OF A FLYING OFFICER

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    Posted: 12 Jun 2010 at 12:21

THE IDEALS AND TRAINING OF A FLYING OFFICER

Roderick Ward Maclennan

Click on the cover to buy from Amazon!

Crécy Publishing Ltd, 1a Ringway Trading Estate, Shadowmoss Road, Manchester M22 5LH

www.crecy.co.uk

104pp, 130×190mm, hardback.

ISBN 978-0-85979-130-4, £7.99


This quirkily designed little book comes as a perfect companion to Dancing in the Sky, as it tells in the words of his own letters home the tragically short story of one Canadian pilot. He trained in England, after volunteering initally for the medical service, and appears to have been a naturally gifted flyer. Interestingly, after encountering a former college contemporary who had started training at Camp Borden, he makes the same criticism of the system there as appears in C.W. Hunt’s book.

R.W. Maclennan had completed two years of a law course at Queens University, Toronto, before enlisting, and the documents (including casualty records) from which this volume has been produced come, with the exception of some photographs, from the archives there.

The editor (of whose identity no indication is given) has taken care to produce informative endnotes, tucked away in small print on the last page, which go as far as identifying a pub in Devizes seen by Maclennan, who remarks that this town had more pubs than any other he knew of – just one of many incidental sidelights his letters throw on life in Britain for the benefit of the folks at home.

He describes training; flying characteristics of aircraft; the buildings and lifestyle at CFS; calls the BE2b trainers ‘Hunguffins’, and relates how he never experienced motion sickness in the air, or anywhere, except on the top deck of an electric tram from Clapham Junction!

He writes of his love of flying in a way which suggests he would have enjoyed V.M. Yeates’ descriptions in Winged Victory: he did not live to share Yeates’ disillusion. Maclennan made his first patrol over the lines in an SE5a of 60 Squadron on 17 December 1917. On Christmas Day there came the message that he had died of wounds on 23 December.

‘Beautifully naive’ is the publisher’s description of his writing: he comes across as a most engaging character, and Crécy are to be congratulated for giving him the chance to transport us back to his world. His portrait, sadly, is printed back to front, but, apart from this flaw, the book is an absolute little gem, and not to be missed.

BH Volume 41 Number 1


Edited by AndyK - 12 Jun 2010 at 12:46
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