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The Princeton Boys
It is not generally realized just how many young Americans volunteered for the Canadian and British armed forces long before the USA was itself forced into World War 2. There were literally thousands of them, and the best known were the pilots who joined the RCAF and the RAF. Seven of them fought in the Battle of Britain and two hundred and forty four served in the three Eagle Squadrons, which were RAF fighter squadrons composed of American volunteers. More than one third of these pilots did not survive the war.
This book tells the story of two fictional American college students who are amateur pilots and they volunteer for the RAF just prior to the French collapse in June 1940. To preserve as much historical accuracy as possible, the author puts them into real units and surrounds them with real people. Almost all the actions described actually occurred at the place and on the date used in the book. David, the main character, becomes romantically involved with a young English WAAF officer whom he meets one night in a London theatre.
David’s father, a professor of history and a veteran of “The Great War,” enlists in the US Army Air Force and serves as a staff officer, reaching the rank of Colonel. He also becomes involved in the higher direction of the war, which allows the author to bring in some stories from the rather controversial Allied strategic bombing campaign and the latter stage of the ground war, thus highlighting some of the acrimonious relations between our military leaders. One is reminded of George Bernard Shaw’s statement that the British and Americans are two peoples divided by a common language.
Brian Mercer was an RAF fighter pilot during the “Cold War” period and involved in aviation for forty seven years. He commanded a jet fighter squadron and was the leader of the RAF’s Formation Aerobatic and Aerial Gunnery Teams. He was awarded two Air Force Crosses and Mentioned in Dispatches. Later, in the civil aviation world, he became the Boeing 747 Fleet Manager of Cathay Pacific Airways. His autobiography, “Black Arrow Blue Diamond”, was published in 2006.
REAL PERSONS FEATURED IN THIS BOOK
Mr Clayton Knight Recruiter of American volunteers
Air Marshall Billy Bishop, RCAF Recruiter of American volunteers
Flight Lieutenant John Kilmartin Spitfire instructor at Aston Down
Flight Lieutenant Bob Stanford Tuck Flight Commander, No. 92 Squadron
Flight Lieutenant Brian Kingcome Flight Commander, No. 92 Squadron
Pilot Officer Tony Bartley Pilot, No. 92 Squadron
Pilot Officer Roy Mottram Pilot, No. 92 Squadron
Pilot Officer Bob Holland Pilot, No. 92 Squadron
Pilot Officer Alan Wright Pilot, No. 92 Squadron
Pilot Officer Geoff Wellum Pilot, No. 92 Squadron
Sergeant ‘Titch’ Havercroft Pilot, No. 92 Squadron
Wing Commander de Broke Chief Fighter Controller, No. 11 Group
Air Vice Marshall Sir Keith Park AOC No. 11 Group
General Ira Eaker Commander US 8th Bomber Command
Lieutenant Robert Rosenthal B 17 Pilot
Squadron leader Tommy Thompson CO, No. 111 Squadron
Colonel Don Blakeslee Commander US 4th Fighter Group
Pilot Officer Chesley Peterson Pilot, No. 71 Eagle Squadron
Pilot Officer Bill Dunn Pilot, No. 71 Eagle Squadron