I have just finished reading this book about Clive Caldwell who was Australia's greatest fighter pilot during World War II. There is, (quite obviously), a lot written about aeroplanes throughout the book, but I found this an extremely interesting read.
One thing which struck me as I read was how really nothing has changed in the theatre of war nor our treatment of the men who fight on that stage.
Clive Caldwell could have been writing about today when he wrote the following while fighting in the Middle East in 1941:
"Tomorrow, this indifferent Pole or Jem the quiet man or old MacWilliams or myself would cross into the ranks of the newly dead, and join the countless numbers of those who had once watched the sun setting in a flash of green light at the rim of the desert and found even the smell of fried bully beef acceptable. It began to seem as if I was condemned to wander around the world engaged in a futile war until a bullet or a crash singled me out and gave me the answer to all the questions asked since childhood.
We quarrel among ourselves until one of our number is attacked by someone outside the circle. Afterwards, if they survive, they persuade themselves that they share the glory with the high commanders who get the knighthoods and the public acclaim. The abysmal folly of it all. We gather together half a million men, equip them at a fabulous cost, transport them God knows how many thousands of miles then engage in a death struggle with total strangers for causes that remain obscure. At the end of it what do we do? Break our promises to the survivors whom a grateful nation…. will not need again".