Group Captain Harley Boxall joined the RAF in 1936, serving with a Blenheim squadron in the Far East from 1939 until the Japanese entry into the war. During this pre-war period he was involved in a crash that left him and his crew marooned on a desert island, an incident that forms the centrepiece of Harley's own memoirs. After this he was swept up in the Japanese onslaught, escaping to hold a series of increasingly senior posts.
This book falls into two clear halves. The first is an autobiography, based on Captain Harley Boxall's own account, written after the war while he was in hospital suffered from tuberculosis. The second half is a biography, written by Joe Bamford, using Harley's flight records and other sources to complete the story of his
The first half is much the stronger. Here Bamford's notes support Harley's own text, filling in some important gaps to paint a much more complete picture of his life. Sadly Harley's text ends in September 1940, just after he was placed in charge of the RAF base at Alor Star in northern Malaya, so we don't have his own first hand account of the desperate fighting that followed just over a year later. This section suggests that the standard view of the RAF in the Far East as being unprepared is unfair - outnumbered and overwhelmed yes, unprepared no.
This is an interesting memoir, providing a different view of the pre-war RAF, and a rare view of life in a Blenheim squadron in the Far East during a time of great uncertainty.
Part One/ Prologue
1 - Elementary Flying Training
2 - Service Flight Training School
3 - 62 Squadron
4 - The Blenheim
5 - An Epic Journey
6 - RAF Tengah
7 - Lost at Sea
8 - The Aftermath
1 - Alor Star
2 - RAF Jodhpur
3 - RAF Mauripur and 229 Group
4 - 108 Wing
5 - Mutiny and Ill Heath
6 - Rhodesia and Retirement
Author: Captain Harley Boxall and Joe Bamford
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation