John Llewelyn Rhys gained his pilot’s licence in 1934 and joined the RAF as a Reservist in the following year. He already had some writing experience and demonstrated his talent for it. He kept on flying until his untimely death in 1940 aged 29. So not much writing of this short lived pilot survived. England Is My Village is a collage of loosely connected short stories. To me this was a compilation of probably his own experiences as a barnstorm pilot, since there were hardly other jobs for young men with no other option than living from their pilot license. It is interesting enough for readers with flying experience themselves. The focus of this writing is flying, shortage of money, hard drinking and – in my view – a rather obnoxious view on women. No money so no women available, probably?
The second book in this combined edition is the story of a record breaking flight, inspired by a lady with only a private pilot license and a few hours on a Tiger Moth. She convinces two pilots, one of them her lover, to fly a Moose Plz.37, a twin engined Polish bomber then in use by the RAF, to accompany her on a record flight attempt. Accompanying her means flying this plane for her, which she is by no means capable of doing herself. In his desciption of her behaviour during this flight -again in my view – the rather immature view om women of JL Rhys comes again to the surface. The record flight comes to an untimely end somewhere in a desert. But luckely the RAF acts as their guardian angel and there is a happy end to this short story. All in all to me JL Rhys is certainly capable to write catchy about pre WW II aircraft and the people in and around them, but he lived probably to short to develop a more mature and worldly writers hand.
Nevertheless, these are two fine special books to read. Brave of HP Handheld press to publish these older books again!