From the Back Cover
I was twenty-two and ready for peace. I had spent four years in the R.A.F as a wireless operator. During the war, I was lucky; I never came close to death. While the world bled from London to Leningrad; I walked away without a scratch. Make no mistake, I did my part in this war; I played my role and I never shirked the paymaster's orders. For four years, I trained, I marched, and I saluted across the British Isles. During the final months of the conflict, I ended up in Belgium and Holland with B.A.F.U. My unit was responsible for maintaining abandoned Nazi air fields, for allied aircraft.
When Germany surrendered, to the allies in gutted Berlin, I was in Fuhlsbuttel, a northern suburb of Hamburg. Our squadron took up a comfortable residence in its undamaged aerodrome located not far from the main thoroughfare. At the time, I didn't think much about Fuhlsbuttel, I felt it was between nothing and nowhere. It was much like every other town our unit drove through during the dying days of the war. Nothing was out of place and it was, quiet, clean and as silent as a Sunday afternoon.
While I slept in my new bed, in this drowsy neighbourhood; the twentieth century's greatest and bloodiest conflict came to an end at midnight on May seventh. On the morning of the eighth, our R.A.F commander hastily arranged a victory party, for that afternoon. The festivities were held in a school gymnasium close to the airport.
No one considered or asked on that day of victory "what happens next." That was tomorrow's problem. I certainly didn't question my destiny on that spring afternoon. Instead like the Romans, I followed the edict carpe diem: I ate too much, I smoked too much and I drank too much. And, why not I reasoned, the war was over and I had survived whereas many others had been extinguished as quickly as it takes to blow out a flame on a candle.