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Sea and Air Fighting (Paperback)

Those Who Were There

Military WWI

By David Bilton
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 168
Illustrations: 16
ISBN: 9781473867055
Published: 3rd November 2016


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This is a compelling book for lovers of sea and air stories from the Great War era. In the twelve stories told by the participants, many of whom were decorated for bravery, they describe their experiences of events: stories of luck, tenacity, courage, extreme danger, excitement and bravery. Also included are photographs to help set the scene for the vignettes and details of the authors' lives where possible. Seven stories detail the war at sea, while the other six reflect the war in the air from a civilian and combatant point of view.

The exciting thing about the stories, apart from their freshness, is that they have remained unpublished for nearly eighty years and they are written by participants who describe exactly what they experienced and felt. Mrs Peel describes what an air raid was like from a civilian’s point of view, and pilots describe both the humdrumness of some of their work and how it could suddenly change in to a fight for their life, in which luck often played a part in their survival. At sea, the authors describe the struggle to overcome the U-boat menace using Q ships and reveal the boredom, suspense and danger involved in laying a trap.

The Battle of Jutland is described from an officer’s active view of events, and the sinking of the Audacious is described by someone who was aboard and sworn to silence about the events. There is also the exciting story of the chase and fight between the Carmania and the Cap Trafalgar.

The ultimate test of any book—is it worth reading? The answer is yes. Since the veterans of the First World War have all passed away, their memoirs help remind us of that ghastly conflict. As an anthology, this book can be picked up on the spur of the moment, dipped into at any chapter and enjoyed. It is also suitable reading for a rainy afternoon or evening. Thanks to Bilton’s republication of these memoirs, we are not only reminded of the horrors of war, but the courage so frequently shown by its combatants.

The Northern Mariner, April 2017 – reviewed by Robert L. Shoop Colorado Springs, Colorado

A good read, to help us to realise what war can be like – it would make a good present for a young hopeful, set on joining the Navy. It may be of events 100 years ago, but they show the spirit of fighting men, of whatever era.

The Naval Review, May 2017 - reviewed by A J W WILSON

WWI history has been dominated by the trench warfare that was a result of the machine gun. The real innovation was in the air and at sea. A very well chosen photo-plate section supports the
recollections of those that were there – Excellent and great reading.

Read the full review here.

 David Bilton

About David Bilton

David Bilton is a retired teacher who spends his time looking after his family, working as a university lecturer and researching the Great War; an interest ignited by his paternal grandfather’s refusal to talk about his experiences at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. He is a prolific author whose books includes works on the British and German Army, the Home Front and Great War badges; this is volume three of the badges of the British Army in the Great War. Since he started writing he has contributed to television and radio programmes, appeared on Country File and Look North, and given talks on his work.

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