The second volume in an auto-biographical trilogy, Love and Sand focuses on the author's wartime experiences in the RAF and the impact they had on his life during and after the war.
Layton's war time career was spent in the Middle East and North Africa. The book opens with the dramatic aftermath of a raid on an Italian airfield in Abyssinia, flown from the Yemen by No.203 Squadron. During the course of the book we follow Layton to Egypt, from where he took part in the evacuation from Greece; across the heart of the continent on the Trans-Africa ferry route, at one point the only quick way to get short ranged aircraft to Egypt and back to North Africa for the battle of El Alamein and the advance to Tripoli. After that Layton became the chief instructor at No.22 Personnel Training Centre, remaining there until 1945.
Equally important in the book are the accounts of Layton's pre-war life and relationships, which are intertwined between the wartime material, and the relationships that developed during the war. This is not a purely military memoir, and is much stronger because of it. The final two chapters take use through the ten years after the war, completing the picture with a look at the long term impact of the disruption caused by six years of military service.
This is a valuable addition to the vast number of RAF memoirs, the vast majority of which are concerned either with Fighter Command or the bomber offensive over Germany. Here the focus is on the medium bomber in North Africa, specifically the Bristol Blenheim (with a mention for the Baltimore), giving us a valuable view of a very different aspect of the war in the air.
Author: Howard M. Layton
Publisher: Three Spires Publishing
Year: Howard M. Layton