Recollections of an Airman

Recollections of an Airman

Louis Arbon Strange

Casemate, Philadelphia, 2016, 224 pages

Book Review published on: August 18, 2017

Recollections of an Airman is a memoir that relates the prewar and wartime experiences of an aviator during the early days of powered flight. Louis Arbon Strange details his civilian and military experiences before and during World War I. His memoir is a valuable window into this crucial period of early aviation development and warfare at the dawn of the twentieth century.

Recollections of an Airman is a worthwhile read to anyone interested in early aviation or military history. Strange chronicles his experiences beginning with his first exposure to early aircraft in England to his first flying experiences, instruction, solo flight, and then to his vast experiences as a pilot and squadron commander during World War I. This book is especially relevant today as we celebrate many one hundred-year anniversary milestones of the Great War.

I found Strange’s memoir interesting for several reasons, including his detailed descriptions of the technical aspects of early aircraft and the challenges of flying them, the methods and techniques used to train early civilian and military pilots, the transition from peacetime aviation to military application, the development of tactics techniques and procedures for aerial reconnaissance and combat, and, finally, his personal accounts of air combat in World War I. Strange completes his book by describing the very interesting meetings with his German adversaries during the war.

This book’s organization also includes some of his aviation experiences during some of the war’s decisive events. He describes his experiences as an officer, aviator, and commander during the First Battle of the Marne; the battles of Aisne, Ypres, and Loos; the Second Battle of the Marne; numerous raids; bombing missions; and, finally, the abrupt ending of the war. He also describes his experiences in the postwar occupation force.

This book is well written, but it is important to note that it is a manuscript and not a scholarly work of historical research. It is an unvarnished first-person account of this critical period in history. The reader may find this to be the greatest value of this book, especially if read in conjunction with scholarly works written about the period. With this understanding, I recommend this book as a valuable resource to gain a more comprehensive perspective of this critical period in the twentieth century.

Book Review written by: Lt. Col. Thomas G. Meara, U.S. Army, Retired, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas