They Spread Their Wings: Six Courageous Airmen in Combat in the Second World War by Alastair Goodrum

This book, written by Spalding-based author Alastair Goodrum, tells the stories of six teenage volunteers for Second World War aircrew who exchanged school uniform for Air Force Blue.

Published February 4, this £14.99 paperback original takes us through the nervous anticipation of joining up, going solo in the air for the first time, the patient hours of training, the excitement of that first operational posting and becoming part of a close-knit team.

What turns an ordinary man into an extraordinary one? The answer lies in the emotional, action-packed journeys of six teenage volunteers for Second World War aircrew who exchanged school uniform for Air Force Blue and took a giant step into the unknown. These unassuming chaps, people you might rub shoulders with anywhere in the land, were once – a lifetime ago – the backbone of the Royal Air Force and they represent the thousands who volunteered for aircrew during the Second World War. All were young men; most still in their teens when they volunteered.

This collection of true tales describes the men’s training for those coveted ‘Wings’; the nervous excitement of that first sortie over enemy territory; and flying into the hell of an enemy flak barrage and fighters. From the skies over Europe to jungles and deserts, all endured hardship, adventure and danger. They experienced action under enemy fire, wounds, burns and crash-landings, escape and evasion in occupied territory, and the privations of life as a POW. Seventy years on and these brushes with death are by any measure hair-raising encounters that turned adolescents into men – some of whom survived the war, while others paid the ultimate price.

How Lincolnshire schoolboys became combat airmen in World War Two.

We meet and accompany each character through his early family life.

We relive with him the nervous anticipation of joining up, going solo in the air for the first time, the patient hours of training, the excitement of that first operational posting and becoming part of a close-knit team.

Based on original research from flying log books, diaries and family archives.

Previously unpublished illustrations.

Alastair Goodrum has held a passion for aviation ever since being taken as a small boy to the 1954 Farnborough Air Show. He spent his career in telecommunications then ran his own company 1995-2004. He held a commission in the RAFVR(T) from 1968 to 1975, is an occasional radio broadcaster and presents illustrated talks on his pet subject. He has previously written Balloons, Bleriots & Barnstormers: 200 years of Flying For Fun and Dying To Fly: The Human Cost Of Military Flying for The History Press and two earlier books on aviation history.