Book Review: Spitfire Pilot by David M. Crook (Four Stars)


Book Review: Spitfire Pilot: A Personal Account of the Battle of Britain by David M. Crook

(Four Stars)

“In the latter part of the year there occurred the tragic deaths of so many gallant friends, among them being some of the finest people I ever knew.
But on the whole it had been easily the happiest and the most vivid year of my life.”

This book illustrates the value of primary source history. The reader gets a participant’s eye view of history as it is made, in this case the Battle of Britain in 1940. Crook took notes contemporary with the action. Crook was one of “the few” to whom Winston Churchill claimed England owed so much.

“We had a new C.O.[commanding officer], and of the fifteen original members of the squadron, only four were now left.”

The prose is straightforward with no attempt to embellish. That makes it all the better. Some of the slang is out-of-date, even offensive by today’s standards, though Crook’s use twice of the n-word racial slur both times refers to himself. Numerous contemporary photos.

“It seemed so funny to be dining peacefully in Piccadilly only a few hours after being in such a desperate fight.”

Crook notes the incongruities of normalcy next to war and the sudden loss of close friends in the course of a morning.

“We learnt our lesson from these deaths, though it seems so grim that in a war experience is almost always gained at the expense of other men’s lives.”

This book was first published in 1942. Unfortunately, Crook did not survive the war. He was lost at sea during a non-combat aviation mission in 1944.

“One lives and one learns – if lucky.”

1 thought on “Book Review: Spitfire Pilot by David M. Crook (Four Stars)

  1. While it looks like a well-written book and an interesting review, I’ll pass. I don’t tend to read books that are mostly about war, or all about war.

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