Thanks to Peter Hart's skilful efforts, Francis Penny and his comrades are not distant historical figures. Their own words conjure a vivid reality, their characters come alive and their stories move usBritish Army Review
Bloody April: Slaughter in the Skies Over Arras, 1917by Peter Hart
As the Allies embarked upon the Battle of Arras, they desperately needed accurate aerial reconnaissance photographs. But by this point the Royal Flying Club were flying obsolete planes. The new German Albatros scouts massively outclassed them in every respect: speed, armament,/b>
The story of the decimation of the Royal Flying Corps over Arras in 1917
As the Allies embarked upon the Battle of Arras, they desperately needed accurate aerial reconnaissance photographs. But by this point the Royal Flying Club were flying obsolete planes. The new German Albatros scouts massively outclassed them in every respect: speed, armament, ability to withstand punishment and manoeuverability. Many of the RFC's pilots were straight out of flying school - as they took to the air they were sitting targets for the experienced German aces.
Over the course of 'Bloody April' the RFC suffered casualties of over a third. The average life expectancy of a new subaltern on the front line dropped to just eleven days. And yet they carried on flying, day after day, in the knowledge that, in the eyes of their commanders at least, their own lives meant nothing compared to the photographs they brought back, which could save tens of thousands of soldiers on the ground.
In this book Peter Hart tells the story of the air war over Arras, using the voices of the men who were actually there.
Meet the Author
Peter Hart was born in 1955. He went to Liverpool University before joining the Sound Archive at the Imperial War Museum in 1981. He is now Oral Historian at the Archive. He is the author of several highly acclaimed works on the First World War.
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This was a very well written book. The amount of personal information included is what makes this book great. The personal narratives of the actual men who flew in these amazing aircraft is very insightful.
Bloody April: Slaughter in the Skies Over Arras, 1917 by Peter Hart, is a fine and engrossing study of the Battle of Arras in 1917, focusing on the climatic month of April when British and Canadian forces succeeded in driving back the Germans. Hart begins with a thorough introduction to the battle, explaining how the Allies and the Germans came to fight near a village that had seen war ever since the Romans built it. He brilliantly describes the actions and preparations made prior to Spring, 1917, making excellent use of reports, maps, and personal letters. The core of the book is centered on the air battle in April. British success¿and high casualty rates in the Royal Flying Corps as it tried to make do with mediocre planes and little training¿made possible the breakthroughs realized by the British and Canadian infantry, allowing them to capture Vimy Ridge. Along the way we run into some familiar figures, Richtofen and Göring among them, but most of the men we meet are now long forgotten except perhaps for a letter or, with luck, a picture. Hart tries to tell a bit of their story too. This is an important and worthwhile book. Oh, one more thing is worth noting: You really must read the acknowledgments. Hart¿s original idea for the title of his book will make you laugh out loud.