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They Gave Me a Seafire (Airlife's Classics) Paperback – January 25, 2001

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Product Details

  • Series: Airlife's Classics
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The Crowood Press Ltd (January 25, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840372451
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840372458
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,432,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Commander R. 'Mike' Crosley, DSC*, RN, was born in Liverpool in 1920. His operational history with the Fleet Air Arm saw him complete up to 3 sorties a day in the period 1942-45. His capacity for survival and sheer skill as a pilot were remarked upon at the time, and he secured a number of decorations, including DSC* and Bar. Upon his retirement from the Royal Navy in 1970, he became a Physics teacher in Devon and the Isle of Wight. Following the release of They Gave Me A Seafire in 1986, he went on to write Up In Harm's Way: Flying With the Fleet Air Arm, first published in 1995 by Airlife, and re-issued by Pen and Sword Books in 2005. He died in 2010, aged 90. He received a posthumous Arctic Star in 2013. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Andy Wright on February 23, 2010
After a swathe of books covering RAAF personnel I thought it was time I read something that was the complete polar opposite. I'd been admiring TGMAS ever since I removed it from its envelope a couple of years ago having bought it from a Naval & Military Press sale for about $10. Happily, the quality of the book itself is reflected by the writing within. 'Delightful' is perhaps the best word to describe it. However, as enjoyable a read as it is, it's very evident that, by war's end, the author, a consummate professional, is weary beyond words and quite critical of 'the establishment' and its inability to adapt quickly. I have read several books by flyers who were active for most, if not all, of the war but only one (Owen Zupp's Down To Earth) can compete with TGMAS for its honesty and candour.

I'm getting ahead of myself but, considering the title, there's a lot of Sea Hurricane flying to devour before you come across a Seafire. The book opens with what is becoming a common `hook' these days - an event that is harrowing and full of adventure. In this case it is the sinking of the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle by four torpedoes from the U-boat U73. The author was a Sea Hurricane pilot with 813F Naval Air Squadron and the reader immediately gets an idea of the style of writing when, after describing the initial shock of the explosion, he says "Anyway, lunch was off for the moment...".

Crosley's childhood was one of disruption. His mother left his stage opera father and placed the author and his sister in a variety of separate foster homes. However his paternal grandmother soon comes to the rescue and with his father remarried, running a nursery and now overlooking the river Hamble, Crosley earns a choral scholarship and a quality education.
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First published in 1986, this excellent work is an autobiographical account of the experiences of Commander Mike Crosley (RN) as a carrier-borne fighter pilot with the FAA in WW2. The writing style is lively, engaging & not infrequently humorous. At the same time it contains moments of great poignancy and frequent frustration at the short-sightedness and incompetence of the senior naval command, which Crosley convincingly argues was too slow to successfully exploit the use of carrier-borne aircraft.

A nomadic childhood & musical education at a choir school led Crosley at the outbreak of WW2 to join the Metropolitan Police. Determined to fly, he was turned down by the RAF for bureaucratic reasons because the police was a `reserved occupation'. The Navy, operating by different rules - or more likely ignoring them - had no such scruples, and he was accepted for pilot training in 1940 at `HMS Vincent' (not a ship but a shore-based training facility) in Gosport.

After training on a variety of aircraft, the young officer finally gets to grips with the Sea Hurricane and is discovered to be a natural pilot. Posted to HMS Eagle, he gets his first two `kills' in the Mediterranean, an Italian reconnaissance aircraft and a Luftwaffe Ju88, before `Eagle' is torpedoed, with Crosley on board about to eat lunch, by U73 in the Straits of Gibraltar.

Following a spell in England, Crosley takes part in the `Torch' landings where he successfully shoots down a French fighter, before undertaking a tough assignment on storm-tossed Arctic convoys. Then seconded to the RAF for a spell on Spitfire 9s, D-Day sees Crosley return to the Navy to fly a Seafire over the Normandy beaches spotting for Naval gunfire to support the landings.
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