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Aces, Warriors and Wingmen: The Firsthand Accounts of Canada's Fighter Pilots in the Second World War Hardcover – May 6, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (May 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470835907
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470835906
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap



Almost a decade ago, Wayne Ralph, the author of a bestselling biography of William Barker, a Canadian air ace from the First World War, embarked on a new venture. He began to travel across Canada and the United States, Searching out Canadian fighter pilots, fighter-bomber pilots, and many others-inducing night fighter and naval carrier pilots-and air crew who had served in the Second World war. The results of this unique and remarkable journey are encompassed in accounts from more than a hundred interviews that in riveting detail tell of the trials, victories and losses that characterize combat in the air.

From the author's interviews with the pilots, and information contained in their logbooks, diaries and letters home, the reader will be escorted into the world of combat, from training in Canada and England, to engaging the enemy over Malta, northern Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia. For airmen, living conditions were often harsh, sleep a luxury and emotions on a roller-coaster. the sudden loss of  friend-even a brother-had to be taken in stride and the job at hand done.

Survival depended on a pilot's skill and the condition and characteristics of the aircraft. Hurricanes, Spitfires, Mosquitoes, beaufighters, and Typhoons carried their bullets, bombs and human cargo through horrendous weather conditions and withering enemy fire. There were bonds between man and machine much as there were between the pilots, who were on constant lookout for one another.

As the ranks of veterans become thinner, their firsthand accounts take on even more significance. Aces, warriors & Wingmen is a tribute to a legacy of sacrifice, courage and gallantry, a true picture of combat, and a piece of Canadian history to be treasured.

From the Back Cover

A celebration and a tribute to the warriors of the air who as young men served their country with unselfish devotion. Hear their words. Join these young Canadians in combat.


It was heading home very fast, a Junkers 188, in thin cloud, well out over the North Sea. We hit it badly, and it was flaming, two-three hundred yards [of] flames streaming behind... my navigator, being a serious-minded individual said, "Let's get in closer and take a good look at it, as it is a different type of aircraft and I can report on it when we get down." So I closed in, which was the stupidest thing I ever did...

The mid-upper gunner was not dead; he was sitting inside of the flames. The next thing I saw the gun traversing down toward us. I broke as fast as I could, but he put forty to forty-four 13mm cannon shells into us. I had pistons blown out of one engine and the constant speed unit blown out in the other. We were going to bail out! We jettisoned the door and the navigator was halfway out when the chap came back from the Ground Control Intercept (GCI) and said, "There is a Force 9 to 10 sea and we will never be able [to rescue] you."

So we brought that aircraft back to Bradwell Bay and I can tell you it near flew again. My navigator was wounded, bleeding from the face. I could see the engines running red hot, one was actually running on molten metal... the whole thing glowing inside. The air bottles were shot away and I had no brakes for landing. The Mosquito was in ribbons.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Mccarthy VINE VOICE on February 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
From 1990-2005, the author interviewed many of Canada's surviving WWII fighter pilots, and used the tape recorded interviews from 106 of them as the basis of this book. He undertook a daunting task: he traveled back and forth across Canada several times, tracking down individuals, following up on leads from previous interviews, and working diligently to get as much information as possible, as accurately as possible. The pilots, now in their seventies and eighties, remember the war with varying degrees of clarity. Some, referring to notes and logbooks, could provide amazing details, but others offer only vague recollections about their accomplishments, and sometimes, even about their decorations. The good thing about interviewing them now is that many are more candid and honest about their combat actions than they would have been with the war fresher in their memories.

I'm not aware of any other book that gives such a broad and rich perspective of Canada's contribution to WWII's air war. It covers all theaters and aircraft types, and aviators serving in the RAF, RCAF, and RN. Other books about WWII aces tend to give more in-depth coverage to fewer pilots, whereas this book provides many more, but shorter, anecdotes.

One source of frustration is the way the author sometimes introduces a pilot, gives no consequential information, then jumps on to the next pilot. Rather than covering each man's story in full, the author often splits up one person's recollections between several chapters. Another odd feature is the author's inclusion of spurious details. He sometime's includes a pilot's service number with great fanfare, but more often not, though it's not clear why it would ever be useful to know.
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