143rd Review From Sapper to Spitfire Spy- David Greville-Heygate, Sally-Anne Greville-Heygate

  • From Sapper to Spitfire Spy

    David Greville-Heygate, Sally-Anne Greville-Heygate
    Pen and Sword Books
    2015
    English
    X X X X X
    294 pg.
    9781473843882
    Review written by: Joris Gonggrijp

    The name of the author does already gives the suspicion that this again would be a sort of ‘daddy adoration book’. And yes, indeed it is, and she doesn’t hide it! Dad was not much of a talker, but he has precisely documented how it went with him during WW II (diary, journal, letters to […]

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    The name of the author does already gives the suspicion that this again would be a sort of ‘daddy adoration book’. And yes, indeed it is, and she doesn’t hide it! Dad was not much of a talker, but he has precisely documented how it went with him during WW II (diary, journal, letters to parents and friends). From a historical point of view this has certainly became an extra ordinary narrative.

    After a short family introduction the story actually really gets going after a dramatic pre and post Duinkerken event. Great Britain lived in justified fear for a German invasion and mobilised all forces in order to withstand that. This is how David turned up at a search light, in the middle of nowhere at the south coast. His brother Charles was already favoured to pilot for the RAF and was by their parents already soon put upon a pedestal as ‘the family hero’.

    The following Battle of Britain delivered such great holes in the pilot arsenal of the RAF that both the other armed forces sections, Army and Navy, were asked to provide people for a speed training till pilot or crew member. David saw and grabbed his chance, had a great row with his army superior and was after that dumped at the RAF as ‘undesired. David had to really pull at it, but saw chance to earn the desirable RAF-wing. The requirement were, because of the pinching shortage, slightly adjusted to the need of filling the pilot seats…

    The RAF instructors had noticed that hitting the target was not David his strongest point, but he did have a pilot hand. This was honoured by placing David at the photo scouts. He was also deployed by the dropping of secret agents in occupied France. His brother was in the meantime deployed with a two engine Benheim bomber at the bombardments of German convoy’s which sailed close under the France coast. At one of those missions Charles and his plane with crew members disappeared without a trace, till great sorrow of the family. David has felt this for the rest of his life.

    David staid involved at the air scouts and flew in the end on, especially for this task modified, Spitfires. He continued to accurately note down his daily business and that of other friends and colleagues. David was stationed at Gilze-Rijen after the liberation of southern Netherlands. Here he experienced from close by the largest air landing operation ever, Market Garden. But also the last ‘this is it German air attack’ on the 1st of January 1945, operation Bodenplatte with more than 1000 planes, he witnessed. At the end of the war he was stationed in Germany and still had to post-serve for months to support the British occupying force. After his demobilisation he never flew again. He took over the family company of his, drowning in sorrow, father, married and called his first son Charles, after his missing brother.

    This book is not so much an exciting war story but more a detailed report of daily life between the war days. The book is illustrated with a lot of pictures. These are mainly ‘family pictures’ of his squadron crews.


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