For God, England & Ethel -
the story of 6 Squadron Royal Flying Corps
During WW1, the men of the Army Corps squadrons were the unsung heroes of the Royal Flying Corps on the Western Front, yet little has been written of their exploits. Flying against the faster and more manoeuvrable scouts of the German Air Force, they were the "Eyes of the Army" despite suffering heavy losses. In pioneering the use of airborne wireless, they also changed forever the way in which wars would be waged.
My first Royal Flying Corps book, For God, England and Ethel (named after the inscription 'GEE' my grandmother had engraved on the inside of my grandfather's engagement ring) is a novelised factual account of the WW1 operations of 6 Squadron RFC / RAF, based on the diaries my grandfather kept when he served with the squadron on the Western Front from 1915 to 1918. It tells the true story of three men who all enlist in the Royal Flying Corps as wireless mechanics. Each man has a dream; one to gain a commission, another to become a fighter pilot and the third (my grandfather, Fred Johnstone) to bring his own unique skills to the war and be able to one day return home and marry his sweetheart, Ethel Pocock. Before the war comes to an end, each man’s dream is realised, but as everyone knows, dreams always come at a cost.
You can buy a copy of the book from any of the major on-line book stores, or contact me directly if you would like a signed copy. If you want to search for the best deal, click on the button below.
For those who want to read more than just the story, the book also contains narrative and end-notes as well as previously unpublished facts on 6 Squadron. Click on any of the following buttons to display examples of what you will find in the book as well as some interesting photos.
KIRKUS DISCOVERIES REVIEW - New York (April 16, 2010)
"They also serve who only repair equipment, in this absorbing World War 1 saga. When his sweetheart Ethel puts off marrying him because of the uncertain times, young British watchmaker Fred Johnstone signs up for the Royal Flying Corps rather than wait to be drafted into the infantry and consigned to the trenches. He's assigned to a squadron of artillery observation aircraft in Belgium, a seemingly humdrum unit that sees more than its share of danger and drama. Flying low over the German lines in their cumbersome two-seaters to assess the accuracy of British artillery fire, the airmen confront death in many guises, including enemy anti-aircraft guns, errant British shells, mid-air collisions with comrades and fearsome German fighter planes. In one dogfight, an observer who doesn't know how to fly clambers into the front seat over the bullet-riddled corpse of the pilot and tries to pull the plane out of its death spiral, all while firing his machine gun at a pursuing German ace. Fred has a relatively cushy spot on the ground crew repairing radios, but he also experiences his quota of anguish when buddies are lost and he faces real peril from German bombing raids and crash landings by British planes. Basing his account on his grandfather's diaries and his meticulous historical research, Steve Buster Johnson immerses readers in period detail. He captures the material trappings and the subjective feel of one of the more genteel corners of Army life, with its barracks camaraderie, picnics and music-hall outings, and delicate tensions between military rank and civilian social status. Anyone who loves ancient biplanes will be entranced by the author's Proustian recreation of their looks and idiosyncrasies and the fiendish complexities of flying them. In his nerve-wracking combat scenes, it seems miraculous when these wood-and-cloth contraptions stand up to the shock of battle. A richly textured, nail-biting evocation of the Western Front."
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