A Virginian in Best Blue

RAF World War II
ISBN 1-903953-61-8
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by Parke F Smith
An American pilot's experiences in the RAF 1942-46

Illustrated with numerous historic photographs, this unusual military memoir represents a valuable resource for students, researchers and historians interested in the activities of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and the role played by volunteer American pilots who joined the RAF before the USA had officially entered the war.

One of the few US pilots to have spent the whole of his World War II flying career wearing a British RAF uniform, Parke Smith from Richmond Virginia volunteered to join the RAF in 1942, before the USA had officially entered the war and went on to serve with distinction in three operational RAF squadrons ~ 253 Squadron (Africa 1943); 225 Squadron (Italy 1943/44) and 65 Squadron (UK 1944/45) ~ flying Spitfires, Hurricanes and Mustangs in a variety of roles. Parke's loyalty to the RAF was such that he turned down the opportunity to transfer to the USAF after America had officially joined the war, even though this meant forgoing considerably better pay and rations.

Having never previously ventured outside the USA, Parke found Britain and the British to be full of surprises and his entertaining book presents an enlightening outsider's perspective on many aspects of wartime life in the RAF and the UK in general as well as recording his varied and eventful flying experiences.

The foreword is written by Alex Henshaw MBE, Vickers-Supermarine's chief test pilot during the wartime years, whose prowess in the Spitfire, in particular, is the stuff of aviation legend. In postwar years, he and Parke became good friends. Alex ends his foreword thus:

"It has been my good fortune to have known many great men and women of our time and to have had entree to places and incidents that but for a lifetime of aviation, might not have been possible. In all that time, those I have admired the most have usually been quiet, modest individuals who seek neither fame nor fortune. They have their own code of conduct and behaviour. Parke, in my opinion, is a prime example and his reward has been the respect of his friends and the love, pride and admiration of his family."

details: softback | 140 x 205 mm | 250 pages | b/w photos
genre: military memoir / air forces and warfare / real-life adventure
themes: RAF in World War II / US pilot in RAF
readership: military historians / aviation enthusiasts / general readers