Alfred Day Wanted His War In Its Turmoil He Found His Proper Purpose As The Tail Gunner In A Lancaster Bomber He Found The Wild, Dark Fellowship Of His Crew, And Most Extraordinary Of All He Found Joyce, A Woman To Love But That S All Gone Now The War Took It Away Maybe It Took Him, Too Even though I ll soon be celebrating the 50th anniversary of my arrival here in Australia, I still feel an inordinate sense of British pride in the WW2 achievements of the RAF Those young men who took to the skies against Nazism are heroes to me, as they were to beleaguered Britain, fighting alone while the rest of Europe had capitulated and her American allies were still clinging to isolationism As everyone knows, the casualty rate was shocking while bomber crews had a better chance than the heroic pilots who took part in the Battle of Britain, than one in two of the Bomber Command crews died As Churchill said in his famous speechSource Wikipedia The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes Day after Day, but we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate, careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war making structure of the Nazi power On no part of the Royal Air Force does the weight of the war fall heavily than on the Daylight bombers who will play an invaluable part in the case of invasion and whose unflinching zeal it has been necessary in the meanwhile on numerous occasions to restrain Source Wikipedia These stirring words notwithstanding, the young men of those bomber crews were dealing in death They knew that they had a poor chance of surviving for very long, and that if they did survive they had every chance of losing all their friends They also knew that they themselves were killing large numbers of the enemy At an age when they should have been falling in love, setting up house and bringing up a family they were bonding instead with other young men who were likewise risking their lives to rain death and destruction on others They suffered grief and loss when their friends died they felt survivor guilt and they were plagued with remorse for the civilian deaths they were inflicting The psychological burden must have been extraordinary, no less so after the war.
The acclaimed British author A.
Kennedy has taken this premise to ask the question what was it like for one of these surviving airmen in the aftermath In her latest novel Day, she explores the tortured mind of Alfred Day, former RAF gunner and tailman who leaves his postwar job in a bookshop to work as an extra on a POW film in Germany It is indeed a strange thing to do.
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The first 80 or so pages were a real slog, and I almost ditched it numerous times, feeling that I was working way too hard for too little reward and even too little basic understanding of what the hell was going on The only things that kept me going were the many reviews here that warned that reading the beginning was a lot of hard work, but promised that it would all be worth it in the end They were right I m not sure that the first part needs to be quite so impenetrable and challenging, but I do appreciate that it settled into a poetic rhythm of memory present Day memory, about four different strands moving back and forth PTSD and the horrors of war are rendered with great feeling and empathy, and our hero, Alfie Day, turns out to be a fascinating fellow.
Technically, a brilliant example of how to write a researched novel But also brilliant in so many other ways as well I had started the book once before and found it a bit cold But on this second attempt, I trudged through the early emotional distance and let Kennedy shape me into a slobbering, empathetic mess in the final fourth of the novel Just as I like it.
Why did I read this book I told myself that I d never read another book about the first or Second World War, and yet I picked up this book It was nothing I hadn t read before, and at times the style of writing was confusing and annoying Never again.
Reviewed in 2012I like books about heroes, unassuming heroes, the quiet ones who never get promotion, never get awards for bravery Alfred Day, turret gunner in a bomber squad during WWII is one such hero, a man of huge and noble courage who is constantly beset by his own personal armoury of fears and terrors I also like books where authors take risks and experiment with voice But the author must keep the narrative sufficiently lucid, she must remember her duty to her readers AL Kennedy takes a lot of risks with narrative voice as she lays Alfred s story before us Her risks pay off when we come to understand how Alfred s memory works and when we are finally seduced by the childlike purity of his personality But how many readers make it to that point How many give up in the early stages, defeated by the crazy twists and swoops of his memory as he tries to subdue his ghosts But for those who persist, the rewards are huge Stick with Alfred and read a truly worthwhile argument for the senselessness of war.
At a time when we re all sick of hearing about and seeing the consequences of war this is a book about war well worth reading At 15 Alfred Day lies about his age and joins the RAF as a gunner to get away from his violent father and his small Midlands town that threatens a lack luster life and escapes to see the world or at least bomb it one target and mission at a time The story is told in the third person with forays into the second person point of view and Alfie is reminiscing about his war as he plays an extra in a documentary about World War II.
This is the first book by A L Kennedy that I ve read She has one of the most unique and affecting voices I ve read in quite some time I found myself reading slowly than usual and going back to re read sections to understand better but also just because I wanted to taste them again Alfie s war seemed very true to life and therefore heartbreaking.