As one of Sailor Malan’s Tigers, the Spitfire dominated Bob Spurdle’s WWII flying career with 74 Squadron. Impatient to fly and a rebel against blind officialdom, he wangled one operational posting after another, and was still in action in August 1945. In the meantime he had destroyed eight enemy aircraft, probably four more, and damaged at least 15 others. After leaving 74 Squadron he flew with both 91 Squadron and the Merchant Ship Fighter Unit before visiting his native New Zealand to fly against the Japanese.
Returning to the UK in 1944 as a flight commander in 80 Squadron, he became their Commanding Officer in July of that year. Latterly he was attached to the 6th Airborne Division for Army Co-operation flying by glider into Germany and then reaching the Elbe by 11th Armoured Division tank. Such a diverse range of flying and combat operations by one person makes this an almost unique record of a WWII combat career.
A natural writer, Bob Spurdle vividly expresses the exhilarations and fears of the fighter pilot in action through-out WWII: what it feels like to be jumped by a gaggle of Me109s, coping with the continual pressures of losing friends and of constantly flying in action as part of an elite force on whom the survival of Britain and her allies depended.