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Synopsis

In Down to Earth, Squadron Leader McGlashan reflects honestly on his enthralling and diverse RAF career, one that began with the rag and tube of Hawker biplanes in 1939 and closed in the jet era of the late 1950s. Shot down over the beaches of Dunkirk in heated aerial combat, we follow the footsteps of the nineteen year old along the debris-littered sands and beyond. From the protection of vulnerable convoys to the pioneering days of night-fighting and airborne radar, McGlashan is in the midst of the action. Flying in support of the ill-fated landing at Dieppe and on clandestine night operations before D-Day, he takes an active role in some of the RAFs most significant operations of World War Two. Interspersed throughout are tales of camaraderie and humour. Away from the front line, McGlashan was seconded to BOAC to fly airliners out of Cairo, tasked to ferry all manner of aircraft at the wars end and serve Cyprus at the height of a very nasty campaign. It is a journey of tremendous diversity, punctuated by a series of close calls and inevitable losses. Half a century later, retired and living in Australia, Kenneth McGlashan is drawn back to 1940 with the discovery of his crashed Hurricane surfacing through the sands of Dunkirk. In an emotional pilgrimage, he is reunited with the steed of his youth and its bullet-ridden cockpit. In spite of the many dangers he faced and despite evidence to the contrary, McGlashan regarded himself as nothing more than just another pilot; an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Of the 3,000 allied airmen who flew in the Battle of Britain, only three percent could lay claim to the title of ace, Squadron Leader Kenneth McGlashan AFC always felt great honor in being counted amongst the 97 percent. Zupps writing has featured in many aviation magazines including Flypast, Flightpath and Rag and Tube.

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Down to Earth
Average rating
5 / 5
FRIENDLY FIRE OVER DIEPPE
March 30th, 2013
My father was a veteran of the Dieppe Raid who, as a private in the Royal Regiment of Canada, landed at Puy, west of Dieppe. A late landing resulted in a daylight - not dawn - attack on a heavily defended position. They were decimated. With hundreds of casualties, the C/O ordered surrender and abandoned the objective of silencing the guns of the 'Heidelberg Battery' on the west headland - the same objective that McGlashan's Sqdn. had. Survivors were taken over the cliff to a pasture near the battery. From when I was a boy my father re-told of... "watching a German guard single-handedly mount a light machine gun on a pole and do battle with a marauding Hurricane Fighter that had flown in from the Channel. The fighter shot the soldier literally cutting him in half. The fighter then made passes on the battery to strafe the 'soldiery' below from different approaches". On one pass a machine gun bullet struck my father in the jaw, neck, shoulder and upper R arm, tearing out the shoulder joint. No wonder he remembered the Hurricane and lone gunner!! Reading McGlashan's detailed account, I was struck by the similarities in their stories: a single Hurricane, inland, the same objective, attacks from different directions.... most telling is their duplicate account of the soldier using a pole to elevate his gun and being hit. After 70 years - many questions answered-maybe. (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)
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