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World War II pilot Peter Marshall leads the most successful bombing crew at his airbase, having survived an unusual number of extremely dangerous missions over Germany. However, when Peter falls hopelessly in love with an attractive WAAF officer—one who insists that wartime duties should take precedence over emotions—his concentration begins to suffer. Soon it looks as though his perfect run of successful missions may be at risk—along with the lives of Peter and his men—unless she can be persuaded to relent.
and from very much the same social class. Marshall had worked for a year before the war in an insurance office in Holborn; Pat Johnson had been apprenticed to an estate agent in Croydon. Both had developed into seasoned and reliable pilots of large aircraft. Johnson said: “Coming down to the ‘Black Horse’ after dinner? Take you on at shove-halfpenny.” “If it’s not raining.” “It won’t rain to-night.” The “Black Horse” was one of the two pubs in Hartley Magna, tacitly dedicated to the air
had put the furniture in store, and shut the door, and left that little house. He had gone to Egypt, she had gone into the W.A.A.F.s, the two children had been sent to boarding-school. The furniture, all that they had, was burnt in the London blitz; when the war ended they would have to start all over again. In the meantime she must live with young men and young women twenty years her junior, lonely and out of it. She knew they took her for a dragon. She did not want to be a dragon, which was why
a good calendar, adorned with a beautiful picture of a nude young woman, kneeling and attractive; in some obscure manner she was there as advertising for TAUTWING AERO DOPES. The Wing Commander muttered to himself: “I bet that’s it.” He got up from his chair and opened the door communicating with the Administration office. Squadron Leader Chesterton was not in the room, but his secretary was there, a grey-haired and efficient W.A.A.F. sergeant. He said to her: “Sergeant Pilot Franck and Sergeant
the throttles forward and then moved his right hand back to the wheel; by his side he knew that Gunnar Franck had put his own hand to the throttles as soon as Marshall had left them, in case they should vibrate back during the take off. He smiled again as he watched the runway streaming up to him; good old Gunnar, he thought, careful as ever. He held the heavily loaded machine down longer than was necessary, slowly raising the tail, letting her gain speed upon the ground; with three hundred yards
what he was looking at. All I saw was a little Service truck, and the young pilot who had come out of the room before me standing by it, talking eagerly to a W.A.A.F. Section Officer in the sunlight. There was nothing else but that. Baxter turned from the window. “The very stuff of England,” he said quietly. I smiled. “Those two?” He nodded. I was intrigued. “Is there anything particular about them?” I enquired. “Nothing particular,” he said. “Just an average good pilot, marrying one of the