This is the story of a remarkable young man: James McCudden.VC;DSO+Bar; MC+Bar; MM; Croix de Guerre; America Medal of Honour and Merit. Following his family’s military tradition, James McCudden began his career as a professional soldier in 1910, at the age of 15, as a bugle boy in the Royal Engineers. In the class dominated society of Great Britain of his time, his relatively humble origins meant that he could expect to rise through the ranks no further than sergeant major, that of a commissioned officer beyond his reach. The war of 1914-18 was to change that. Opportunities for commissioned rank were awarded on merit rather than autocracy. At the outbreak of war James McCudden was an engine mechanic, but within four years, by sheer hard work and devotion to duty he and risen through the ranks to be a highly decorated Major: a fighter pilot with 56 official aerial victories to his credit. But his success as a fighter pilot was only part of his worth. Unlike many of his contemporaries McCudden studied the tactical aspects of airfighting, applying them to what he saw as his most important duty as a Flight Commander: to minimise the casualties suffered by his Flight. He was tragically killed in a flying accident in July 1918, flying to France to take command of a squadron. The story is supported by 275 rare photographs.
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Alex Revell is an internationally acknowledged researcher and author writing of the RFC/RAF in the First World War. He has had had many articles published in specialist aviation magazines and the journal of Cross and Cockade International, of which he is a founding member. His previous books include two biographies, the Vivid Air and Brief Glory, both recently republished, and his history of 56 Squadron, High in the Empty Blue, by the same publisher as The Happy Warrior: Of the highly acclaimed High In The Empty Blue, one reviewer wrote: A classic. He could well have written the best specialised study in the field of World War One aviation literature. I suspect this will be the best book I ever get to review. A retired engineer and a jazz musician of international repute, Alex Revell lives in Cornwall with his wife Linda and four Burmese cats.
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