Voices in Flight: Escaping Soldiers and Airmen of World War I, Martin W. Bowman


Voices in Flight: Escaping Soldiers and Airmen of World War I, Martin W. Bowman

This book has several flaws. The most obvious is that the content doesn’t match the title. The first, and by far largest part, is a collection of unconnected articles on air warfare during the First World War. Seven articles in the second part do focus on escape stories, but even here the last article in the book looks at post-war aviation records.

Some of the chapters are in need of a proof read. Several have paragraphs that are repeated and at least one switches from third person to first person half way through a sentence, presumably where the introduction is merging into the original text without a proper acknowledgement. An American who escaped in September 1918 is decribed as the first successful Allied escaper of the war, even though a later chapter describes an earlier success!

With that in mind, the book is actually an interesting read. The first part covers some very interesting stories, including an account of the frustratings of a defensive night fighter squadron attempting to catch German raiders over Britain, the story of the Australian and Canadian contingents, and a number of articles from the German side.

The escape stories that we do get are all fascinating. One thing that several reveal is the value of neutral Holland to escapees of both sides, with Allied escapees heading for the land border and the only successful German escapee crossing from London to Holland by sea. Although there was only one succesful escape from Britain during the war, we get three accounts of escape attempts, including a second that came frustratingly close to success (at least for the people involved!). The allied accounts include the first ‘Great Escape’, which saw twenty-nine POWs escape from a camp at Holzminden in July 1918, ten of whom made their way back to Britain (before the ‘first’ success mentioned above…).

Overall this is an interesting selection of articles, in need of a bit of proof reading, and a more accurate title!

Part One: In Flight
1 - Zeppelin Raid
2 - Home Defence Hero
3 - Night Flying, A.R. Kingsford
4 - 'Reggie', John Lea
5 - Beating the Fokker, Captain Norman Macmillan
6 - Flying Circus, the Knights under the Black Cross
7 - The Eagle of Lille
8 - Flight of the Black Cat, Allan Burnett
9 - 100 Squadron, A.R. Kingsford
10 - Australian Flying Corps
11 - The 'Bloody Paralyser'
12 - The Canadian Contingent

Part Two: Taking Flight
13 - Outwitting the Turk
14 - Escaping from England, Gunther Pluschow
15 - Though the Bathroom Door, Michael C.C. Harrison, MC
16 - Rendezvous With A Submarine, Hermann Tholens
17 - An Unconducted Tour of England, Heinz H.E. Justus
18 - A Winter's Tale, Major Jocelyn Lee Hardy, DSO MC
19 - The Great Escape

Author: Martin W. Bowman
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 256
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
Year: 2017

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