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Goshawk Squadron (Anglais) Broché – 1 avril 2001

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Book by Robinson Derek

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35 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Leadership Style of Major Woolley 14 avril 2003
Par R. A Forczyk - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Derek Robinson wrote Goshawk Squadron in 1971 and began his depiction of squadron life in the Royal Flying Corps (later Royal Air Force). Unlike his later novels that focused on the fictional "Hornet" squadron, this first effort focused on the "Goshawk" squadron, but the method and characters are essentially similar. The main protagonist in Goshawk Squadron is the unit commander, Major Stanley Woolley. This character is clearly defined as an anti-hero, indeed his behavior and methods may appear repugnant or even borderline insane. However, Robinson succeeds in developing an odd pathos behind Woolley and over the course of the novel the reader should gain understanding of the forces that drive this odd character, if not empathy for him. Modern-day military officers might benefit from studying the command methods of Woolley, particularly in preparing units for combat. Overall, Goshawk Squadron is a true classic that delivers vivid characters and action that draws the reader further and further into the realities of air combat in the First World War.
Goshawk Squadron is set in the period January-March 1918, just before the German spring offensives. The squadron is equipped with the SE-5a fighter and begins the novel resting and re-building behind the lines. Woolley has been commander of the squadron for one year and although fanatical in his training methods, he is approaching combat burnout. Indeed, Woolley is so cynical (but realistic, as it turns out) that he believes all his pilots will be dead within three months. In a seemingly futile but rabid effort, Woolley spends the brief period behind the lines to train his squadron to be the most cold-blooded and efficient killers possible. Woolley's combat ethics clearly clash with the English public school morals of his young pilots; Woolley bans words like "sporting," or "fair fight" from his squadron. In these pages, Robinson depicts how four years of harsh, non-stop combat have produced a killer elite in men like Woolley, whose only philosophy is "kill or be killed." To modern eyes, Woolley's training methods will seem callous and cruel, resulting in needless pain and suffering on his pilots. Indeed, Woolley terrorizes his pilots, to include throwing beer bottles and shooting at slow learners. The pilots in Goshawk Squadron hate their commander, but they are also better prepared to survive when they return to operational service. When the great German offensive begins in March 1918, Goshawk Squadron is committed to try and stem the German onslaught as the British front line crumbles. Robinson provides excellent detail both on balloon-busting and close air support attacks, circa 1918.
Woolley does begin to evolve over the course of the novel, as do his pilots. Yet Goshawk Squadron is never a happy unit and modern military readers might question whether the increase in unit efficiency is worth the drop in morale. Woolley makes better killers, but the squadron is visibly falling apart by the end of the novel. Can a combat unit really function for long based merely on fear of the commander? And what is the result when that long-punishing tyrant suddenly decides to ease up on his troops? These questions are never fully addressed by Robinson, but remain lurking in the corners. On the other hand, one of the great scenes in the novel is a confrontation between Woolley and a REMF colonel from headquarters. Unlike other military novels that attempt to portray the clash between the war fighter and rear echelon types, there is no effort toward subterfuge by Woolley. Instead, Woolley starts blasting away at the colonel with his pistol until he wins the argument ("You can't kill me," says the colonel. "I will kill you, take your body up in my plane, and dump it behind German lines," says Woolley. In a war where thousands disappeared without a trace, this is a convincing threat.). Robinson's point here is that it is difficult to threaten a man with theoretical punitive actions when he is facing the very real threat of death in combat on a daily basis. Advice to REMFs: don't go to the front line in a war and threaten combat soldiers with administrative actions, if you do, wear a flak jacket.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The WWI air war how it really was 30 mai 2006
Par Alan Eager - Publié sur
Format: Broché
This book tell the air war in WWI as it really was. Ruthless, brutal, terrifying and a sheer waste of human life. You hear many stories - mainly propoganda about the dashingness, chivalry and adventurous life of the "Knights in the air". This novel puts it all to shame through the leader of Goshawk Squadron Major Woolley. Wolley although only 23 is already a hardened vetran and realist about fighting and tries to drill his rookies into "winning" not "surviving" - he even bans the use of words like fair, luck and chivalry. One of the trainees in the novel sums him up - "Richards suddenly understood. Richards saw that Woolley was trying to do more than train them, and lead them, and pass on the lessons of experience: he was also struggling to turn each of them into the kind of person that he himself had become: When Wolley instructed them in shooting the enemy in the back he was not being melodramatic, he really meant it, because Wolley was a professional. The amateurs played at fighting: they kept their scores and rejoiced in their adventures, and they were brave, good-humoured warriors. But Wolley took it seriously. He had asked the ultimate question - what was it for? - and got the obvious, the only answer. You flew to destroy the enemy. You did not fly to fight, but to kill. It was neither fun nor adventure nor sport. It was business".

Woolley was not your typical "la-de-dah" flying officer of the "Jolly Good Show old chaps" - he was rough, brash and hated all that pompousness. A highly amuzing part of the story is when the new HQ Commander a Colonel call Hawthorn comes down to visit the airfield and lecutres Woolley on his requisition of supplies of alcohol and silk scarves. Woolley shoots the mans briefcase and the cap off his head and threatens to kill him unless he delivers the supplies - Alcohol is needed to stop the pilot from getting the runs becuase of the stink of the engines and to stop them thinking what they do all day, and they need the scarves to go round the neck to "lubricate" as the head turns all the time. As Woolley tell the stunned Colonel "They need the booze to stop them thinking what they do all day. And you, you po-faced runt, you've no idea what they do".

Read this book and your thoughts on the WWI air aces will never be the same again, but you'll love it.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Best fictional book on WW1 air combat 4 août 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Poche
This is probably my most favorite work of fiction. I first read it when I was in the Air Force in 1972 and I have re-read it three times since. Often humorous and always entertaining it never drags. It is not easy to find but if you do, get it, you won't be sorry. Then try Piece of Cake, Derek Robinson's book about life with an RAF squadron during the early days of WW2.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A brilliant vision into the real life of WWI aviators 14 octobre 1998
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Poche
A pure delight to read, Goshawk Squadron has everything going for it: pulse-pounding air combat action, unique and in-depth characters, and capturing the tragedy, horror and peculiar black humor of war. Forget the chivalrous red baron fighting a worthy foe: the truth of Bloody April is vivid in these pages; as Wooley says, "There are only two breed of men up there... murderers and victims." An excellent tour de force by Derek Robinson.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Excellent for military aviation aficionados! 21 juin 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Poche
This book is a page turner. It gives a realistic glimpse of the life of a British RFC SE5a squadron during WW1. Full of well developed charactors and exciting action. It explodes the myth of the "gallant knight of the air." The action is gritty and intense with accurate descriptions of life during wartime, flying and dogfights. This book is a must for any military aviation aficionado.
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