As was the case with Jack Curry s Lancaster Target this is a must read if the subject interests you First Light is a fabulous account of the day to day life of a spitfire pilot during The Battle of Britain He selects a handful of his most memorable experiences and devotes a chapter to each Wellum puts you up there in the cockpit with his masterful command of language and fantastic descriptive prowess Absolutely riveting and deeply moving from start to finish As was the case with Jack Curry s Lancaster Target this is a must read if the subject interests you First Light is a fabulous account of the day to day life of a spitfire pilot during The Battle of Britain He selects a handful of his most memorable experiences and devotes a chapter to each Wellum puts you up there in the cockpit with his masterful command of language and fantastic descriptive prowess Absolutely riveting and deeply moving from start to finish A wonderful insight into the life of the Battle of Britain pilots from one who sadly departed recently. Geoffrey Wellum left school at 17 to join the RAF, before being launched into the Battle of Britain as a Spitfire pilot at the age of 19 This is his beautifully and candidly written account of what it felt like to be part of a fighter squadron and to fly a Spitfire, the camaraderie, fear, confusion and excitement of flying and fighting, which eventually led to combat fatigue. This is a very compelling book As the son of a Second World War veteran of the European phase of the war, in reading Mr Wellum s account, I want to thank him for helping to make real in my mind, the stresses that war places on you In particular, while reading the chapter in which Mr Wellum describes his chase of a Junkers 88 bomber in foul weather and his subsequent efforts to return to his airbase, I felt as if I were the cockpit with him, hoping that I d get down safely and in one piece H This is a very compelling book As the son of a Second World War veteran of the European phase of the war, in reading Mr Wellum s account, I want to thank him for helping to make real in my mind, the stresses that war places on you In particular, while reading the chapter in which Mr Wellum describes his chase of a Junkers 88 bomber in foul weather and his subsequent efforts to return to his airbase, I felt as if I were the cockpit with him, hoping that I d get down safely and in one piece Having read other books by and about the famous RAF aces Bader, Tuck, and Paul Richey , I recommend this book very highly It s very well written and will give you a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices made by the Second World War generation Thank you, Mr Wellum, for your service and for this book There are manypeople than you may realize who are grateful for what you have written Thank you again This is the best work in the genre of memoir biography autobiography I have read by or about pilots of the Battle of Britain It is beautifully written, humorous and touching It made me laugh out loud in places and also brought tears to my eyes in others The most memorable aspects of this memoir for me were the sense of serene freedom enjoyed by the author whilst in the air during the pre operational part of his training, the quiet but deep bonds of friendship between the author and his fell This is the best work in the genre of memoir biography autobiography I have read by or about pilots of the Battle of Britain It is beautifully written, humorous and touching It made me laugh out loud in places and also brought tears to my eyes in others The most memorable aspects of this memoir for me were the sense of serene freedom enjoyed by the author whilst in the air during the pre operational part of his training, the quiet but deep bonds of friendship between the author and his fellow pilots and the moments of humour expressed in snappy prose and quoted speech However, and it is probably due to the author s modesty, I didn t get a good sense of his impending breakdown towards the end of the memoir, nor of his subsequent recovery This would probably beadequately expressed in the third person by a biographer The various interviews with the author available online add an extra poignancy to this memoir in light of his personal struggle in later life In the interviews, Wellum talked about the difficulties he encountered later on in reconciling this part of his life with his later years and I was eagerly awaiting his second memoir Twilight of the Few but there seems to be some delay or problem in publishing it This won t be so much a review as an injunction read this book That s right, stop reading this review right now and go and get hold of First Light however you can buy it, borrow it, steal it if necessary any writer in his deepest heart wants readersthan anything else, so if you can t afford to buy his work, he ll forgive someone who steals to read.Right, got it What, you mean you haven t bought it yet Well, let me tell you why you should Firstly, this book has moved, in a single re This won t be so much a review as an injunction read this book That s right, stop reading this review right now and go and get hold of First Light however you can buy it, borrow it, steal it if necessary any writer in his deepest heart wants readersthan anything else, so if you can t afford to buy his work, he ll forgive someone who steals to read.Right, got it What, you mean you haven t bought it yet Well, let me tell you why you should Firstly, this book has moved, in a single reading, into my top five favourite books of all time The achievement is all the greater in that the other occupiers of that list were books I read when I was much younger, unmarked, and could receive deeper andlasting impressions from the books I read But First Light has broken through the dull accretions, and the dullening, of age So, if you would be young again, read First Light.How has it managed to do this Because it combines two things in a quite extraordinary manner Firstly, it is the memoir of a boy growing into manhood while flying Spitfires during the Battle of Britain As such, it is thrilling, humbling and intense in a way that very little else could be As an aside, the great Australian cricketer, Keith Miller, also flew fighter planes during the Second World War When interviewed many years later by Michael Parkinson, Parkinson asked him about how the pressure of playing top level cricket, to which Miller gave the immortal, and precise, answer Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse, playing cricket is not As a straight memoir, First Light would be a good book for the almost impressionist way it brings to life the stress and tension of being a front line fighter pilot during the Second World War But there are many other memoirs of the air war Where First Light becomes something quite exceptional is that, unlike most of the other memoirs, it was written many years after the events it describes, when Wellum, so young during the Battle of Britain that he was nicknamed Boy by the other members of his squadron, had become an old man What s , he was an old man whose marriage had broken down and who had withdrawn from his old life.First Light is the record of an old man looking back on his life and asking the question of whether that life was worthwhile It is the record of humanity staring into the great unknown that awaits and asking, Did I live in vain There is thus, behind the tale of the young man growing up, the almost unbearable poignancy of an old man assessing his years and weighing them in the scales This is what makes First Light so exceptional youth recalled in age, and the great question of whether, when Geoffrey Wellum meets his maker, he will have anything to place in the scales to weigh his life as having been well lived.Although there is an aching sense that Wellum himself is unsure of the answer, to the reader there is no doubt that we live to read what you have written is testament to your life and its worth.Thank you, Mr Wellum, for your life and for your book The true mark of a fighter pilot is not the number of enemies he s shot down or the way he flies his plane It is the way he takes his tea.and my friend Geoffrey Wellum, you take it straight up. There have been countless war memoirs and books about the Battle of Britain Why another one This one has some significant differences that make it a compelling read Surprisingly, First Light was first publishedthan 60 years after the events described within At just 18 years of age, the author Geoffrey Wellum was the youngest RAF pilot to fight action during the Battle of Britain He would eventually become the youngest Spitfire pilot in the prestigious 92 Squadron Unlike most war me There have been countless war memoirs and books about the Battle of Britain Why another one This one has some significant differences that make it a compelling read Surprisingly, First Light was first publishedthan 60 years after the events described within At just 18 years of age, the author Geoffrey Wellum was the youngest RAF pilot to fight action during the Battle of Britain He would eventually become the youngest Spitfire pilot in the prestigious 92 Squadron Unlike most war memoirs, his training takes upthan a third of the book Despite the delay in publishing the book, Wellum had jotted down notes in an exercise book at the time something that would give his account unusual depth and quality Wellum s real achievement is to make the reader experience with him the sheer difficulty of learning to fly along with its many dangers Wellum takes us behind the scenes to see what life among fighter pilots is like during wartime We are witnesses to he and his fellow pilots as they bond over pints in pubs, outwardly nonchalant but inwardly vulnerable as they wait for the call to scramble He provides accounts of take offs and landings, dogfights, night flying, and flying in dreadful weather Death becomes routine We become so involved during the battles that we feel as though we re in the cockpit with him, being chased by Messerschmitt 109 You feel the terror We are witnesses as Wellum grows into manhood, growing in both confidence and skill to the point where he becomes fearless.Perhaps the only reason this book gets four stars is that the writing, as one would expect, is less than the best In First Light, Geoffrey Wellum tells the inspiring, often terrifying true story of his coming of age amid the roaring, tumbling dogfights of the fiercest air war the world had ever seen It is the story of an idealistic schoolboy who couldn t believe his luck when the RAF agreed to take him on as a pupil pilot at the minimum age of seventeen and a half inIn his fervor to fly, he gave little thought to the coming war Writing with wit, compassion, and a great deal of technical expertise, Wellum relives his grueling months of flight training, during which two of his classmates crashed and died He describes a hilarious scene during his first day in the prestigious nd Squadron when his commader discovered that Wellum had not only never flown a Spitfire, he d never even seen one A battle hardened ace by the winter of , though still not out of his teens, Boy Wellum flew scores of missions as fighter escort on bombing missions over France Yet the constant life or death stress of murderous combat and anguish over the loss of his closest friends sapped endurance Tortured by fierce headaches, even in the midst of battle, he could not bear the thought of not pulling your weight, of letting the other pilots risk their lives in his place Wellum s frank account of his long, losing bout with battle fatigue is both moving and enlightening Stunning.