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The Archaeology of the Royal Flying Corps (Hardback)

Trench Art, Souvenirs and Lucky Mascots

Aviation > WWI Military P&S History > Archaeology WWI

By Melanie Winterton, Foreword by Nicholas J Saunders
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Modern Conflict Archaeology
Pages: 176
ISBN: 9781399097260
Published: 16th September 2022



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Archaeology provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the aviators of the First World War. Their descriptions of the sensation of flying in the open cockpits of the primitive warplanes of the day, and the artefacts that have survived from these first years of aerial combat, give us a powerful sense of what their wartime service was like and chart the beginning of our modern understanding of aviation. But the subject hasn’t been explored in any depth before, which is why Melanie Winterton’s pioneering book is so timely. Hers is the first study of the trench art, souvenirs and lucky mascots associated with the Royal Flying Corps which, in an original way, tell us so much about the experience of flying on the Western Front a century ago.

Extensive quotations from the memoirs of these early airmen are combined with an analysis of the artefacts themselves. They convey something of the fear and anxiety the airmen had to grapple with on a daily basis and bring out the full significance of the poignant souvenirs they left behind. Pieces of crashed aeroplane – wooden propellers, strips of linen, fragments of metal – were recycled and circulated during the war and afterwards became the focus of attention in the domestic home. As Melanie Winterton demonstrates, these items connected the living with the deceased, which is why they are so strongly evocative even today.

"Winterton’s book is a good introductory effort on the haptic environment of World War I aviators and their personal artifacts."

The Journal of the Air Force Historical Foundation

This book is recommended as an introductory study of the psychology of World War I aviators and in the different meanings of aviation memorabilia. Collectors of trench art and aviation souvenirs will also find this book adds to their knowledge of these items.

Over the Front - Spring 2023

As featured by

The de Havilland Moth Club Ltd

5 out of 5

This is a book well worth buying if you have any interest in aviation or the Great War, and certainly a new and different way of looking at those young men, many of whom would feature greatly as Father figures and Guardians to the next generation of airborne gladiators

Read the Full Review Here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

Competition as featured in

Royal Air Force News, February 2023

Winterton's approach is ethereal, focusing on the emotions and anxieties of early flight and why they necessitated the creation of omens and lucky charms.

Indy Squadron Dispatch

"It is without doubt a valuable addition to the historiography and archaeology of WW1. I recommend this unreservedly!"

Martin Willoughby, The Wessex Branch of the Western Front Association

The book is beautifully illustrated 23 black and white photos and 22 full color plates showing a variety of artifacts belonging to veterans and their families. Students of World War One, combat aviation, and conflict archaeology will find much to consider in this well written volume.


As Featured In

Cher Ami, Great War Special Interest Group Newsletter - July 2022

About Melanie Winterton

Melanie Winterton obtained a PhD in Modern Conflict Archaeology at the University of Bristol. A life-long aviation enthusiast, now semi-retired, following a career in publishing, Melanie continues her research as an independent scholar. This is her first book, though she has written chapters for books and presented papers at various conferences.

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