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"War Memoirs of Fleet Air Arm Corsair needed" Topic

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1,068 hits since 9 Oct 2012
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Doug em4miniatures Inactive Member10 Oct 2012 9:20 a.m. PST

Many, many (many, many, many) years ago I read the memoirs of a Fleet Air Arm pilot who flew Corsairs in the British Pacific Fleet. It was a library book. I'd dearly love to read it again but I can't remember the author's name or the book title. If it helps, there are a couple of things from the book that stick in my mind. One was the fact that he was based in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for a while and he says that he and his colleagues used to strafe the crocodiles on river banks as a kind of revenge sport. The other thing was his explanation of how the Corsair could be given a speed boost by injecting water (I think) into the fuel supply.

Ring any bells…?


highlandcatfrog Inactive Member10 Oct 2012 9:46 a.m. PST

Could it have been Sea Flight by Hugh Popham?

boy wundyr x Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2012 10:06 a.m. PST

I have Sea Flight, I don't remember Corsairs though. Is there a chance it was a novel? I think I have something about a FAA Pacific pilot in my collection.

highlandcatfrog Inactive Member10 Oct 2012 10:35 a.m. PST

Eureka! Found it!

Carrier Pilot by Norman Hanson.

Doug em4miniatures Inactive Member10 Oct 2012 11:52 a.m. PST

highlandcatfrog – I've followed that up online and I think you are correct – I'm going to get a copy anyway just to make sure (even if it's not the right one – it certainly looks a good read but I think it IS the one).

Question. What was the process you followed to get this result? I'm in need of some of your technique because in the 70s, I read several fantastic collections of memoirs of aircrew which I trawled from liverpool Central Library and I'd love to track some of them down again but, as with this one, I don't have the names of the authors and books – just memories of parts of the books – mainly the aircraft they flew. For example, there was one about a Blenheim pilot who spent his early career attacking maritime targets round the coast of Britain and a Wellington pilot who was based in Malta.


Huscarle Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2012 11:55 a.m. PST

Sounds good, so good in fact, that I've ordered a copy. Thanks chaps.

Doug em4miniatures Inactive Member10 Oct 2012 11:59 a.m. PST

I've just ordered a second-hand copy – can't wait…1


Doug em4miniatures Inactive Member10 Oct 2012 12:18 p.m. PST

To answer my own earlier uqestion to highlandcatfrog, I've been googling and found this rather wonderful site:
I reckon I'll find some of the books I'm after here.


boy wundyr x Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2012 12:37 p.m. PST

That helps for me too, I've been trying to find a memoir by a Swordfish pilot (and it's not "To War in a Stringbag") that I read in the 1980s. I just remember some North Atlantic action in nasty weather, and something about Hurricane CAM pilots.

Arteis Inactive Member10 Oct 2012 4:06 p.m. PST

My father-in-law was a New Zealand pilot in the Fleet Air Arm, flying Corsairs … unfortunately he is no longer with us, though I think my mother-in-law has some old photos.

Oberst Radl Inactive Member10 Oct 2012 7:56 p.m. PST

Just ordered a copy, I'm finding this genre addictive. I just finished Samurai and wish Saburao Sakai had been more talkative and less modest. Now I'm onto The First and the Last, and happily finding out that Adolf Galland is both!

daghan Inactive Member11 Oct 2012 4:17 a.m. PST

Ha! … And I thought the OP was thinking of Paddy Payne of "The Lion" fame.

highlandcatfrog Inactive Member11 Oct 2012 8:58 a.m. PST

Doug em4miniatures – Process? I'm flattered that you ascribe a process to the strange workings of my mind!

Anyway, I remembered that the book exists, though I don't have it. When my first guess at the title proved wrong I checked the bibliographies of some books I have on the BPF, found the one I thought you were looking for, then searched it out on Amazon to confirm that was the one. I frequently check bibliographies to find other books on a subject that is of interest to me.

Can't help you about the book by the Wellington pilot (wouldn't mind finding it myself – I've got a fondness for the Wellington); I'll bet the one by the Blenheim pilot is Torpedo Bomber! or Ship Busters!, both by Ralph Barker (GREAT reads btw).

boy wundyr x – The book by the Swordfish pilot might be With Naval Wings by John Wellham. I can see it on the shelf from where I'm sitting but it's been awhile since I read it.

Oberst Radi – Darn right it's addictive! If you're looking for memoirs regarding any specific time period, theater, or aircraft type I'll see if I can come up with some recommendations for you from amongst the ones (LOTS!) that I've got.

Doug em4miniatures Inactive Member11 Oct 2012 10:09 a.m. PST

highlandcatfrog, I'm wondering if this is my Blenheim book:
Nevertheless, I'll check out your suggestions and see if the books you mention sound more like it.

edit – Just checked out Ralph Barker – don't think it was him….

boy wundyr x Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2012 12:47 p.m. PST

Thanks Highlandcatfrog! I'll look into that one, and I was inspired by this thread to poke around online some more, and a second alternative might be "Bring Back My Stringbag" by John Kilbracken.

BattlerBritain12 Oct 2012 7:24 a.m. PST

'Wings on my Sleeve' by Eric Brown is also a pretty good read, if you're after WW2 Carrier Ops and some remarkable insights into WW2 German Aircraft as well.

Oberst Radl Inactive Member12 Oct 2012 9:11 p.m. PST

highlandcatfrog, that would be great. Really getting interested in WW2 and WW1 fighter operations. Also like fighter vs. bomber. Any list would be great, can PM or post.

BTW, has anyone read "Corkscrew to Safety" on the Woodfield website above? I read Len Deighton's *Bomber* about 4 times and the Lanc used to corkscrew, which is why I noticed it.

highlandcatfrog Inactive Member13 Oct 2012 6:24 a.m. PST

Herr Oberst: I'll put together and post a list tomorrow. I'm off in a few minutes for a day of WW II aerial combat – B-29s hitting Target 357 and picket ships off Okinawa.

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP16 Oct 2012 3:03 p.m. PST

I liked "On and Off the Flight Deck, by Hank Adlam. He started out in Martlets and ended up in Corsairs in the BPF.

Amazon has it: link

P.S.; that Woodfield site looks interesting. I wonder what the quality is like?


Royal Marine22 Oct 2012 2:13 p.m. PST

Modern stuff …



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