It’s 1917, and Captain Stanley Woolley joins an R.F.C. squadron whose pilots are starting to fear the worst: their war over the Western Front may go on for years. A pilot’s life is usually short, so while it lasts it is celebrated strenuously.
Distractions from the brutality of the air war include British nurses; eccentric Russian pilots; bureaucratic battles over the plum-jam ration; rat-hunting with Very pistols; and the C.O.’s patent, potent cocktail, known as "Hornet’s Sting".
But as the summer offensives boil up, none of these can offer any lasting comfort.
About Derek Robinson
Derek Robinson, the son of a policeman, read history at Cambridge before working in advertising in London and New York. His novel Goshawk Squadron was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1971.