Winged Victory


Winged Victory

"Winged Victory" is a 1934 novel by English World War I fighter pilot Victor Maslin Yeates. It concerns World War I, the existence pilots lead and the fear involved in flying early biplanes. Its protagonist, Tom Cundall, plans to leave the Royal Air Force when his service is up and live on a West Country farm with his friends. However, by the time he is due to leave the air force, all his friends have "gone west". This leaves him a broken man. Yeates based the character Tom Cundall on his friend, the author Henry Williamson. It was Williamson who encouraged Yeates to complete the book after World War 1. The narrative combination of action, pathos, humour and humility set against the huge casualties of the RAF in 1918 makes "Winged Victory" one of the forgotten classics of Great War literature.

The book is semi-autobiographical, V. M. Yeates having served with 46 Squadron flying Sopwith Camels in 1918 and also having lost all his friends in the war. T. E. Lawrence praised it on its release with the words "Admirable, admirable, admirable. One of the most distinguished histories of the war...masterly". However, it went out of print due to a lack of a publisher and was soon forgotten. Yeates died in 1934 from tuberculosis.

It had a resurgence in popularity with RAF pilots during World War II because of its accurate descriptions of air warfare. The book was republished in paperback in 2004 and is now readily available.

References

* V. Yeates, "Winged Victory" (Grub Street, 2004) ISBN 1-904010-65-2
* [http://www.warbirdforum.com/wingvic.htm Black Humor from 1918]


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