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BOOK OF THE MONTH
THE ICKABOG
J.K. Rowling
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'The Ickabog is coming... A mythical monster, a kingdom in peril, an adventure...(+)

Author Spotlight

Marina is an Anglo-Indian, London-based barrister specialising in constitutional and human rights ...(+)

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No Empty Chairs
Ian Mackersey

Classification : Military History
Pub Date : May 15, 2012
Imprint : Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Page Extent : 384
Binding : HB
ISBN : 9780297859949
Price : 1,325

About the book

The empty chairs belonged, all too briefly, to the doomed young First World War airmen who failed to return from the terrifying daily aerial combats above the trenches of the Western Front. The edict of their commander-in-chief was the missing aviators were to be immediately replaced. Before the new faces could arrive, the departed men's vacant seats at the squadron dinner table were sometimes poignantly occupied by their caps and boots, placed there in a sad ritual by their surviving colleagues as they drank to their memory.



Life for most of the pilots of the Royal Flying Corps was appallingly short. If they graduated alive and unmaimed from the flying training that killed more than half of them before they reached the front line, only a few would for very long survive the daily battles they fought over the ravaged moonscape of no-man's-land. Their average life expectancy at the height of the war was measured only in weeks. Parachutes that began to save their German enemies were denied them.



Fear of incarceration, and the daily spectacle of watching close colleagues die in burning aircraft, took a devastating toll on the nerves of the world's first fighter pilots. Many became mentally ill. As they waited for death, or with luck the survivable wound that would send them back to 'Blighty', they poured their emotions into their diaries and streams of letters to their loved ones at home.



Drawing on these remarkable testimonies and pilots' memoirs, Ian Mackersey has brilliantly reconstructed the First Great Air War through the lives of their participants. As they waited to die, they shared their loneliness, their fears, triumphs - and squadron gossip - with the families who lived in daily dread of the knock on the door that would bring the War Office telegram in its fateful green envelope.


Read Review   Want to write a review?
No Empty Chairs describes in vivid detail the often short lives of the young pilots of World War One... This book is one that has a very human feel, in that it does not simply look at the combat or the planes, but at the people who flew them, who risked their lives in them and who died in them. An appealing work that is both moving and efficiently accurate in its details>
In the spring of 1917 the Royal Flying Corps was losing 200 pilots a month, with life expectancy for young flying officers standing at just 11 days. Constructed through surviving letters and diaries, this harrowing and detailed history, written by a former pilot, looks at the terrible toll that the war took on these young men embarking on a new age of warfare>
     
Ian Mackersey
Ian Mackersey is a writer and documentary film-maker; his speciality is aviation biography.

He began his career as a writer for The Dominion and later the New Zealand Herald, and has lived...(+)
Books by Ian Mackersey
The Wright Brothers (PB)
The Wright Brothers (HB)