Ian Mackersey - No Empty Chairs - Orion Publishing Group

Time remaining

  • -- days
  • -- hours
  • -- minutes
  • -- seconds
Other Formats
  • E-Book £P.O.R.
    More information
    • ISBN:9780297859956
    • Publication date:10 May 2012

No Empty Chairs

The Short and Heroic Lives of the Young Aviators Who Fought and Died in the First World War

By Ian Mackersey

  • Paperback
  • £9.99

The 1914-18 conflict narrated through the voices of the men whose combat was in the air.

The 1914-18 conflict narrated through the voices of the men whose combat was in the air.

The empty chairs belonged, all too briefly, to the doomed young First World War airmen who failed to return from the terrifying daily aerial combats above the trenches of the Western Front. The edict of their commander-in-chief was the missing aviators were to be immediately replaced. Before the new faces could arrive, the departed men's vacant seats at the squadron dinner table were sometimes poignantly occupied by their caps and boots, placed there in a sad ritual by their surviving colleagues as they drank to their memory.

Life for most of the pilots of the Royal Flying Corps was appallingly short. If they graduated alive and unmaimed from the flying training that killed more than half of them before they reached the front line, only a few would for very long survive the daily battles they fought over the ravaged moonscape of no-man's-land. Their average life expectancy at the height of the war was measured only in weeks. Parachutes that began to save their German enemies were denied them.

Fear of incarceration, and the daily spectacle of watching close colleagues die in burning aircraft, took a devastating toll on the nerves of the world's first fighter pilots. Many became mentally ill. As they waited for death, or with luck the survivable wound that would send them back to 'Blighty', they poured their emotions into their diaries and streams of letters to their loved ones at home.

Drawing on these remarkable testimonies and pilots' memoirs, Ian Mackersey has brilliantly reconstructed the First Great Air War through the lives of its participants. As they waited to die, the men shared their loneliness, their fears, triumphs - and squadron gossip - with the families who lived in daily dread of the knock on the door that would bring the War Office telegram in its fateful green envelope.

Biographical Notes

Ian Mackersey is a writer and documentary film-maker; his speciality is aviation biography. He began his career as a writer for The Dominion and later the New Zealand Herald, and has lived in Britain, Rhodesia and Zambia, before returning to New Zealand.



Visit his website at www.ianmackersey.com

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9780753828137
  • Publication date: 03 Oct 2013
  • Page count: 288
  • Imprint: W&N
This moving book uses letters and diaries to evoke the terrible cost of such warfare...Sleepless nights, separated lovers and grieving parents are recalled with painful immediacy in this meticulously researched tribute to those who died or were lucky enough to survive. — SALLY MORRIS, DAILY MAIL
W&N

Popski's Private Army

Vladimir Peniakoff
Authors:
Vladimir Peniakoff
W&N

The Mesmerist

Wendy Moore
Authors:
Wendy Moore

FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER, WEDLOCKMedicine, in the early 1800s, was a brutal business. Operations were performed without anaesthesia while conventional treatment relied on leeches, cupping and toxic potions. The most surgeons could offer by way of pain relief was a large swig of brandy. Onto this scene came John Elliotson, the dazzling new hope of the medical world. Charismatic and ambitious, Elliotson was determined to transform medicine from a hodge-podge of archaic remedies into a practice informed by the latest science. In this aim he was backed by Thomas Wakley, founder of the new magazine, the Lancet, and a campaigner against corruption and malpractice.Then, in the summer of 1837, a French visitor - the self-styled Baron Jules Denis Dupotet - arrived in London to promote an exotic new idea: mesmerism. The mesmerism mania would take the nation by storm but would ultimately split the two friends, and the medical world, asunder - throwing into focus fundamental questions about the fine line between medicine and quackery, between science and superstition.

W&N

Where Poppies Blow

John Lewis-Stempel
Authors:
John Lewis-Stempel

Winner of the 2017 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize for nature writingThe natural history of the Western Front during the First World War'If it weren't for the birds, what a hell it would be.' During the Great War, soldiers lived inside the ground, closer to nature than many humans had lived for centuries. Animals provided comfort and interest to fill the blank hours in the trenches - bird-watching, for instance, was probably the single most popular hobby among officers. Soldiers went fishing in flooded shell holes, shot hares in no-man's land for the pot, and planted gardens in their trenches and billets. Nature was also sometimes a curse - rats, spiders and lice abounded, and disease could be biblical.But above all, nature healed, and, despite the bullets and blood, it inspired men to endure. Where Poppies Blow is the unique story of how nature gave the British soldiers of the Great War a reason to fight, and the will to go on.

W&N

A Million Years in a Day

Greg Jenner
Authors:
Greg Jenner

'A wonderful idea, gloriously put into practice. Greg Jenner is as witty as he is knowledgeable' - Tom Holland'You will love Greg Jenner's jolly account of how we have more in common with our ancestors than we might think ... all human life is here, amusingly conveyed in intriguing nuggets of gossipy historical anecdote' - Daily MailEvery day, from the moment our alarm clock wakes us in the morning until our head hits our pillow at night, we all take part in rituals that are millennia old. In this gloriously entertaining romp through human history - featuring new updates for the paperback edition - BBC Horrible Histories consultant Greg Jenner explores the hidden stories behind these daily routines.This is not a story of politics, wars or great events, instead Greg Jenner has scoured Roman rubbish bins, Egyptian tombs and Victorian sewers to bring us the most intriguing, surprising and sometimes downright silly nuggets from our past.It is a history of all those things you always wondered - and many you have never considered. It is the story of our lives, one million years in the making.

W&N

Backroom Boys

Edward Smithies
Authors:
Edward Smithies

When we remember the Second World War in the air, we think of fighter pilots and bomber crews. But what was it like for the men and women working as ground crew and in the aircraft factories who also played a crucial role in defeating Hitler? What was it like making history? What sense did these individuals have of what they were doing, either at the time or later? Did they feel they were caught up in the tide of great events? Or were they simply doing their demanding and often dangerous duty?

W&N

Hubris

Alistair Horne
Authors:
Alistair Horne
W&N

A Tuscan Childhood

Kinta Beevor
Authors:
Kinta Beevor
W&N

Churchill and Empire

Lawrence James
Authors:
Lawrence James
W&N

Ideas

Peter Watson
Authors:
Peter Watson

A highly ambitious and lucid history of ideas from the very earliest times to the present day.In this hugely ambitious and exciting book Peter Watson tells the history of ideas from prehistory to the present day, leading to a new way of telling the history of the world. The book begins over a million years ago with a discussion of how the earliest ideas might have originated. Looking at animal behaviour that appears to require some thought: tool-making, territoriality, counting, language (or at least sounds), pairbonding. Peter Watson moves on to the apeman and the development of simple ideas such as cooking, the earliest language, the emergence of family life. All the obvious areas are tackled: the Ancient Greeks, Christian theology, the ideas of Jesus, astrological thought, the soul, the self, beliefs about the heavens, the ideas of Islam, the Crusades, humanism, the Renaissance, Gutenberg and the book, the scientific revolution, the age of discovery, Shakespeare, the idea of Revolution, the Romantic imagination, Darwin, imperialism, modernism, Freud right up to the present day and the internet.

W&N

Iron Fist: Classic Armoured Warfare

Bryan Perrett
Authors:
Bryan Perrett
W&N

The Second World War

Antony Beevor
Authors:
Antony Beevor
W&N

Air America

Christopher Robbins
Authors:
Christopher Robbins

The incredible inside story of the world's most extraordinary covert operation.Air America - a secret airline run by the CIA - flew missions no one else would touch, from General Claire Cennault's legendary Flying Tigers in WW II to two brutal decades cruising over the bomb-savaged jungles of Southeast Asia. Their pilots dared all and did all - a high-rolling, fast-playing bunch of has-beens and hellraisers whose motto was 'Anything, Anywhere, Anytime'. Whether it was delivering food and weapons or spooks and opium, Air America was the one airline where you didn't need reservations - just a hell of a lot of courage and a willingness to fly to the bitter end.

W&N

The Maid and the Queen

Nancy Goldstone
Authors:
Nancy Goldstone
W&N

Get Rommel

Michael Asher
Authors:
Michael Asher

How the first ever SAS operation ended in disaster in the desertIn summer 1941 Erwin Rommel was Hitler's favourite general: he had driven the British out of Libya and stood poised to invade Egypt. He seemed unbeatable. So the British decided to have him killed. The British opened their counter-attack with a series of special forces raids, the first ever operation by the newly formed SAS. Rommel was one of the targets.Michael Asher reveals how poor planning and incompetence in high places led to disaster in the desert-- and how fantastic bravery and brilliant improvisation enabled a handful of men to escape. Classic real life adventure, written by best-selling desert expert and novelist Michael Asher.

W&N

Low Level Hell

Hugh Mills, Robert Anderson
Authors:
Hugh Mills, Robert Anderson

'The best 'bird's eye view' of the helicopter war in Vietnam in print today ... Mills has captured the realities of a select group of aviators who shot craps with death on every mission' R.S. Maxham, Director, US Army Aviation MuseumThe aeroscouts of the 1st Infantry Division have three words emblazoned on their unit patch: Low Level Hell. It was the perfect concise defininition of what those intrepid aviators experienced as they ranged the skies of Vietnam from the Cambodian border to the Iron Triangle. The Outcasts, as they were known, flew low and slow. They were the aerial eyes of the division in search of the enemy. Too often for longevity's sake they found the Viet Cong and the fight was on. These young pilots, who were usually 19 to 22 years old, invented the book as they went along.

W&N

Scream of Eagles

Robert K Wilcox
Authors:
Robert K Wilcox
W&N

The Somme

Peter Hart, Nigel Steel
Authors:
Peter Hart, Nigel Steel

A major new history of the most infamous battle of the First World War, as described by the men who fought it.On 1 July 1916, Douglas Haig's army launched the 'Big Push' that was supposed finally to bring an end to the stalemate on the Western Front. What happened next was a human catastrophe: scrambling over the top into the face of the German machine guns and artillery fire, almost 20,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed that day alone, and twice as many wounded - the greatest loss in a single day ever sustained by the British Army. The battle did not stop there, however. It dragged on for another 4 months, leaving the battlefield strewn with literally hundreds of thousands of bodies. The Somme has remained a byword for the futility of war ever since. In this major new history, Peter Hart describes how the battle looked from the point of view of those who fought it. Using never-before-seen eyewitness testimonies, he shows us this epic conflict from all angles. We see what it was like to crawl across No Man's Land in the face of the German guns, what it was like for those who stayed behind in the trenches - the padres, the artillerymen, the doctors. We also see what the battle looked like from the air, as the RFC battled to keep control of the skies above the battlefield. All this is put in the context of the background to the battle, and Haig's overall strategy for the Western Front, making this the most comprehensive history of the battle since Lyn MacDonald's bestselling work over 20 years ago.

W&N

Bloody April

Peter Hart
Authors:
Peter Hart

The story of the decimation of the Royal Flying Corps over Arras in 1917As the Allies embarked upon the Battle of Arras, they desperately needed accurate aerial reconnaissance photographs. But by this point the Royal Flying Club were flying obsolete planes. The new German Albatros scouts massively outclassed them in every respect: speed, armament, ability to withstand punishment and manoeuverability. Many of the RFC's pilots were straight out of flying school - as they took to the air they were sitting targets for the experienced German aces. Over the course of 'Bloody April' the RFC suffered casualties of over a third. The average life expectancy of a new subaltern on the front line dropped to just eleven days. And yet they carried on flying, day after day, in the knowledge that, in the eyes of their commanders at least, their own lives meant nothing compared to the photographs they brought back, which could save tens of thousands of soldiers on the ground. In this book Peter Hart tells the story of the air war over Arras, using the voices of the men who were actually there.

W&N

Paths of Glory

Anthony Clayton
Authors:
Anthony Clayton

World War I from the French point of view: the first ever account in EnglishAnthony Clayton is an acknowledged expert on the French military and his book is a major contribution to the study and understanding of the First World War. He reveals why and how the French army fought as it did. He profiles its senior commanders - Joffre, Petain, Nivelle and Foch - and analyses its major campaigns both on the Western Front and in the Near East and Africa. PATHS OF GLORY also considers in detail the officers, how they kept their trenches and how men from very different areas of France fought and died together. He scrutinises the make-up and performance of France's large colonial armies and investigates the mutinies of 1917. Ultimately, he reveals how the traumatic French experience of the 1914-18 war indelibly shaped a nation.

W&N

Enigma

Hugh Sebag-Montefiore
Authors:
Hugh Sebag-Montefiore

The complete story of how the German Enigma codes were broken. Perfect for fans of THE IMITATION GAME, the new film on Alan Turing's Enigma code, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.Breaking the German Enigma codes was not only about brilliant mathematicians and professors at Bletchley Park. There is another aspect of the story which it is only now possible to tell. It takes in the exploits of spies, naval officers and ordinary British seamen who risked, and in some cases lost, their lives snatching the vital Enigma codebooks from under the noses of Nazi officials and from sinking German ships and submarines. This book tells the whole Enigma story: its original invention and use by German forces and how it was the Poles who first cracked - and passed on to the British - the key to the German airforce Enigma. The more complicated German Navy Enigma appeared to them to be unbreakable.