Item description for DOWN TO EARTH: A Fighter Pilot's Experiences of Surviving Dunkirk, The Battle of Britain, Dieppe and D-Day by Kenneth Butterworth McGlashan...
In Down to Earth, Squadron Leader McGlashan reflects honestly on his enthralling and diverse RAF career, one that began with the rag and tube of Hawker biplanes in 1939 and closed in the jet era of the late 1950s. Shot down over the beaches of Dunkirk in heated aerial combat, we follow the footsteps of the nineteen year old along the debris-littered sands and beyond. From the protection of vulnerable convoys to the pioneering days of night-fighting and airborne radar, McGlashan is in the midst of the action. Flying in support of the ill-fated landing at Dieppe and on clandestine night operations before D-Day, he takes an active role in some of the RAF's most significant operations of World War Two. Interspersed throughout are tales of camaraderie and humour. Away from the front line, McGlashan was seconded to BOAC to fly airliners out of Cairo, tasked to ferry all manner of aircraft at the war's end and serve Cyprus at the height of a very nasty campaign. It is a journey of tremendous diversity, punctuated by a series of close calls and inevitable losses. Half a century later, retired and living in Australia, Kenneth McGlashan is drawn back to 1940 with the discovery of his crashed Hurricane surfacing through the sands of Dunkirk. In an emotional pilgrimage, he is reunited with the steed of his youth and its bullet-ridden cockpit. In spite of the many dangers he faced and despite evidence to the contrary, McGlashan regarded himself as nothing more than just another pilot; an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Of the 3,000 allied airmen who flew in the Battle of Britain, only three percent could lay claim to the title of 'ace', Squadron Leader Kenneth McGlashan AFC always felt great honor in being counted amongst the 97 percent. Zupp's writing has featured in many aviation magazines including Flypast, Flightpath and Rag and Tube. REVIEWS "There are some autobiographies that stand head and shoulders above the others, and this is one of them!... Beautifully written..."October 2007, Flypast magazine
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.21" Width: 6.3" Height: 1.02" Weight: 1.1 lbs.
Publisher Grub Street Publishing
ISBN 1904943845 ISBN13 9781904943846
A Story Well-Told and Deserving to be Told Jul 3, 2008
I thoroughly enjoyed 'Down to Earth', the war memoirs of Squadron Leader Kenneth Butterworth McGlashan, AFC, co-written with Owen Zupp. Mr. McGlashan has the distinction of having been in the 'right' place---'right' being a relative term, I guess, as he had to do a lot of fighting-- to take part in many of the major battles of World War Two, from Dunkirk through The Battle of Britain, Dieppe, and D-Day. He then has more adventures flying transport aircraft. His story is told in the way most World War Two veterans tell of their exploits, as if these herioc deeds were just another job and no big deal. McGlashan's humility makes his story all the more readable and enjoyable. Even his wooing of his future wife takes time and effort as the quiet charm of the young pilot grows on the lovely girl he courts.
McGlashan is now retired and living in Australia, and a fitting end to this book sees him paying a pilgrimage to his old Hawker Hurricane, crashed on the beach during the evacuation of Dunkirk.
I think the thing I enjoyed most about this book is McGlashan's conversational style, his disarming modesty, and his humor. I felt after reading it that this is the kind of chap I'd like to sit down with and have a few beers, and just listen to him talk for three or four hours. These men truly were 'The Greatest Generation', and I applaud co-author Owen Zupp for helping bring this important story to light.
Rob Morris, Author, Untold Valor: Forgotten Stories of American Bomber Crewmen over Europe in World War Two, Potomac, 2006.
A wonderful read Mar 11, 2008
I usually rave and rave about wartime aviation memoirs because, to me, they are such a privilege to read. However, Down To Earth is more than that. Sure, it's great that the author has shared this story with us but, at the end, you come away feeling like you know Mac and wishing you could shake his hand.
Kenneth McGlashan flew over Dunkirk and, through self-admitted inexperience, walked its beaches after his Hurricane was shot down. He is young, 19, but mature. Further trips over Dunkirk follow and he evolves into an effective single-engined fighter pilot. The Battle of Britain follows during which Mac's squadron is posted for an intriguing interlude in Ireland chasing German Condor long-range maritime patrol bombers. Here, his desire to pass on his knowledge surfaces and his commitment and drive to better himself as a leader and pilot is evident. He returns to England and flies cats' eye night fighter ops where he has to rely on his skill, eyesight and a lot of luck. Over time, Mac finds himself working with searchlight-equipped Boston/Havocs, the next great idea in night fighting to prove unsuccessful but nevertheless exciting when flying close formation with a bomber at night. Finally, though, he finds himself posted to a Mosquito night fighter unit and, at last, an effective way to hunt at night. What follows is a love affair with the Mossie, a harsh lesson on single-engined flying that sees him in hospital and determined to learn and teach what he can about "assymetric" flight, continuing anecdotes of the great men he flew with, an amazing sojourn with BOAC in the Middle East, flying during the invasion of Europe, training, raising a family, the end of the war, successful command of a Mossie squadron, award of the Air Force Cross, transfers, time in Cyprus and living around the world. What a life!
The writing is relaxed and so easy to follow. It is casual but evocative, regularly amusing but equally poignant. Mac certainly made the most of his scrapes over Dunkirk, his lucky escape over Dieppe and his serious crash in the Mossie. He learns from his mistakes and adventures as indicated by the fact he flew operationally for more than four years, more or less. His revisting the scene of his Dunkirk incident brought a lump to my throat as he relived the events of that day surprised he could remember such minute details. Mac's stories are supported by excellent memories from his wife, Doreen, adding a very personal aspect to the reading.
The author comments that the restoration of Mac's Hurri, R-for-Robert, is a fitting tribute to the man. I think it is fair to say, so is this book.