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First Light


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One of the classic stories of World War II repackaged with a new foreword by bestselling historian Patrick Bishop.

About the Author

Geoffrey Wellum was born in Walthamstow, and educated at Forest School, Snaresbrook. Aged seventeen, he joined the RAF on a short-service commission in August 1939 and served with 92 Squadron throughout the Battle of Britain. In March 1942 he went to 65 Squadron at Debden as a Flight Commander and from there to Malta later that year. He led a group of eight Spitfires off HMS Furious to Luqa during Operation Pedestal.

Returning to England, Wellum became a test pilot on Typhoons at Gloster Aircraft. He later became a gunnery instructor until the end of the war. He stayed in the RAF after 1945, serving in Germany as a staff officer, followed by a four-year tour of duty with 192 Squadron. Wellum left the RAF in 1961 to take up a position with a firm of commodity brokers in the City of London until his retirement to Cornwall. He died in July 2018, aged ninety-six.


Vivid, wholly convincing, compelling. One of the best memoirs for years about the experience of flying in war
*Sunday Telegraph*

It took him 35 years to turn his notebooks into a narrative, and the result is a highly personal account of what it is like to face mortal combat, day and night, and what it does to a man who is barely more than a boy
*Ben Macintyre*

An intimate account . . . rich in detail
*Wall Street Journal, 'Five Best World War II Memoirs'*

An extraordinarily deeply moving and astonishingly evocative story. Reading it, you feel you are in the Spitfire with him, at 20,000ft, chased by a German Heinkel, with your ammunition gone

A brilliantly fresh, achingly written memoir. Thrilling and frightening on virtually every page . . . Wellum takes you into battle with him. A book for all ages and generations, a treasure
*Daily Express*

Amazingly fresh and immediate . . . absolutely honest, it is an extraordinarily gripping and powerful story
*Evening Standard*

There have been countless books about the Battle of Britain. But the combination of immediacy - Geoffrey Wellum had jotted down notes in an exercise book at the time - and distance - another 35 years would pass before he expanded his notes into a narrative - gives this account extraordinary depth and resonance . . . First Light will rank among the finest of Second World War memoirs

One of the most gripping personal accounts of aerial warfare ever written

Wellum's story is astonishing . . . moving yet startlingly clear-eyed

No other account of flying in the Battle of Britain has been articulated as well as Geoffrey's in First Light
*Daily Express*

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