Memoirs of First World War Fighter Pilot takes three generations to complete
A biography of a First World War fighter pilot has taken three generations of family members to complete.
Chris Granville White has just completed a biography of his father Hugh, with the help of a cousin and his son Richard, who typed up his late father’s manuscripts and prepared the graphics to go with it.
The story began in 1979 when Chris, who lives at Greatford, said to his then 80-year-old father it was time for him to write about his exploits flying as a teenager for the RAF in the First World War and the service and life that followed.
Hugh ‘grunted’ at the suggestion but 18 months later handed Chris a folder with a photocopied manuscript with photos glued in place.
The account ended in 1919, when Hugh described himself as a “rather despondent flying officer.” The end of the ‘Great War’ meant the squadron he commanded was downgraded, Hugh was demoted, a brother died in service and his father had just died so the family home had to be sold.
For son Chris, it begged the question ‘what happened next?’ something he aimed to answer when time allowed.
Chris also served in the RAF and on retirement began in 2005 writing about the rest of his father’s life.
By that time, Hugh had died, with Chris inheriting flying logbooks and papers. The death of mum Joy in 1999 provided a diary from 1927 to give a good insight to life in India, with him also receiving treasured family albums.
After the First World War, Hugh worked for the RAF in India, then he spent several years in Bristol, followed by three years in Singapore as the Second World War approached, and then the family moved to Buckinghamshire. After the Second World War, Hugh saw service in Germany and Austria, where he worked on how to take supplies to Vienna should the Soviets blockade the Austrian capital as they did to Berlin.
Hugh served in the RAF until 1955 and retired in Devon and Sussex, with the book, now written by Chris, taking you up to Hugh’s death in 1983.
Chris said: “It has been a long journey, with many pauses while the priorities of life took over, but along the way I learnt a lot about my father and about RAF history and world events.”
Chris’s younger son, Richard White, then created the cover and related graphics.
The book was finished last October and Grub Street Publishing took it on, with proceeds going to the RAF Benevolent Fund. Last week, ‘War Amongst The Clouds’ was launched at the Duxford ‘Flying Legends’ air show. A book signing will take place at Walkers Bookshop, Stamford, on Saturday July 27 at 11am.