KIWI SPITFIRE ACE: A Gripping World War II Story of Action, Captivity and Freedom

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9781902304786: KIWI SPITFIRE ACE: A Gripping World War II Story of Action, Captivity and Freedom
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Jack Rae gained his wings in New Zealand in 1940 and was posted to Britain as a Sergeant Pilot. He converted to Spitfires in early 1941, becoming an 'ace' and completing more than 50 operational sorties with 485 (NZ) Squadron. He was subsequently posted to Malta as part of a group of fighter pilots reinforcing the island's defenders.

In Malta Rae served with the famous 'Screwball' Beurling, Buck McNair, Ray Hesslyn, 'Laddie' Lucas and 'Jumbo' Gracey among others. At the height of the Luftwaffe's all-out onslaught designed to neutralise the island in preparation for invasion, more than 90% of the Squadron were lost to the Luftwaffe. Rae was shot down and wounded, although he recovered to fly once more. Having completed his tour of duty on the island, he was posted back to Britain joining his Squadron at the renowned Biggin Hill air base.

The same day as he was promoted to Flight Commander he was forced to crash-land his aircraft in France due to engine failure. He was captured and spent the next 20 months in prisoner-of-war camps. Most of this time was spent in Stalag Luft III, famous for the "great escape" in which 50 RAF officers were shot by the Gestapo after they were recaptured. Perhaps fortunately, he lost his chance to take part in this escape as he was in solitary confinement for a previous failed solo attempt.

During the bitterly cold winter of 1944-45, Rae was forced to march across Germany, fleeing from advancing Russian troops, an ordeal that killed many prisoners and guards. He managed to escape from one temporary camp but became so hungry that after a week he broke back into the camp again. He was finally freed from a camp near Bremen by advancing British troops. He ended his war service as a Flight Lieutenant awarded the DFC and Bar.

Jack Rae's account of his fighter pilot days makes compelling reading. Air war adventures have seldom been told with such conviction.

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Jack Rae DFC
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ISBN 10: 1902304780 ISBN 13: 9781902304786
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