I sweated in the hot flying kit as I walked over the far side of the field smoking a last cigarette with the flying officer who was leading our flight. I will give this man a fictitious name, Watson. He was perhaps twenty-two or twenty-three. He was six foot, unusually slim and boyish with dark hair and a serious shy face, and he had been very gay last night at the rest-house. Someone had said to him, 'I hear you are going to do something pretty intrepid to-morrow.' 'Yes,' he had said, 'pretty intrepid.' They had got the word out of some newspaper report and it was a joke among them to use it. I do not think that they ever felt brave. They felt tired or exhilarated or worried or hungry and occasionally afraid. But never brave. Certainly never intrepid. Most of them were completely unanalytical. They were restless and nervous when they were grounded for a day. They volunteered for every flight and of necessity some each day had to be left behind. They lived sharp vivid lives. Their response to almost everything - women, flying, drinking, working - was immediate, positive, and direct. They ate and slept well. There was little subtlety and still less artistry about what they did and said and thought. They had no time for leisure, no opportunity for introspection. They made friends easily. And never again after the speed and excitement of this war would they lead the lives they were once designed to lead. They were no material for peace.
[start of notes]
This article is an excerpt taken from pages 79-80 in the book The War In The Air, subtitled The Royal Air Force In World War II, edited by Gavin Lyall.
Some details from the first few pages:
- Preface and commentary copyright 1968 by Gavin Lyall.
- First Printing: September, 1970
- Second Printing: September, 1972
The specific section that contained this excerpt was "Target Kassala" by Alan Moorehead.
[end of notes]