This is a personal account written by a man reflecting on his time as a young pilot with the Royal Flying Corps in France during the First World War, who eventually became an ace. It is a story of survival against the odds at a time when the conduct of air operations depended so much on individual skills, innovation, courage – and luck.
Hugh White flew F.E.2D Scout aircraft with 20 Squadron as a reconnaissance patrol pilot aged just eighteen. By his nineteenth birthday he was a flight commander and the most experienced pilot on the squadron. He then became a flight commander on 29 Squadron flying the S.E.5a which was Britain’s best fighter aircraft at the time. During the two years of flying, he experienced and survived a series of escapades including a dramatic mid-air collision with the enemy. Told by Hugh in his own words, he gives a unique insight into war in the air.
With the break-up of his squadron and being reduced to a substantive rank – simply because of his young age – Hugh’s writing ends in 1919. From this point, the story is continued by his younger son Chris. He describes Hugh’s life and RAF career from flying Bristol Fighters in India during the 1920s, undertaking engineer training at Henlow, to commanding 501 Squadron in the mid-1930s and becoming a full-time technical officer until his retirement as an air vice-marshal in 1955.
This book includes a foreword by Air Marshal Sir Frederick Sowrey (Hugh’s nephew) which puts Hugh White’s early wartime service into context. It is a timely reminder, following the centenary of the end of the First World War, of the difficulties that young pilots faced at the time. A must-read for those interested in wartime exploits.
Group Captain Chris Granville White flew Hunters in the Middle East and Germany; Harriers in Germany as a flight commander and off-base field site commander; and was a Jaguar squadron commander in the recce and attack roles. In later years while working in MoD/RAF Operational Requirements he drafted the operational requirement for Eurofighter Typhoon with his air force colleagues in Germany, Italy and Spain; and was on the government officials four-nation board of directors for eight years.