Tag Archives: RAF

The brave boy band of the Royal Airforce on beating Hitler

Writers are supposed to think of innovative ways to promote their writing these days. Short films are the latest thing. Here’s a good example that is advertising a thriller by a writer I like, Stuart Neville. It’s for his second book Collusion.

I got into reading Stuart via his earlier book The Ghosts of Belfast (in the USA) or The Twelve (in Ireland and the UK). It was excellent and based on an inspired idea. The only problem with his promotional film from Collusion is that, exciting as it is, it doesn’t really reflect the book itself.

Though thinking about it… Maybe that’s not a problem after all. As long as people reading the book.

Which means I could have found the perfect film for my own ebook The Obituarist. It features the heroes of a daring air mission to turn the tide of World War Two – now retired and facing a devious threat from an unexpected quarter. But how to convey the devil-may-care courage and insouciance of their younger days?

This film does it.

If you’re unlucky enough not have already encountered the Horrible Histories crew, I strongly commend them to you. Thanks to Barry Turley for giving me the idea. (The cheque is not in the post. Have you seen the price of stamps these days?)

And thanks also to this great blogger on the UK and US media – Bill at Trading as WDR – before whom the titans of telly tremble and the top ranks of radio reel Continue reading



Filed under Obituarist

The Obituarist: Early days for the ebook

Here’s the latest news for The Obituarist – that stupendously thrilling ebook written by me.

But first – if you’re wavering – how’s this for a review?

Really enjoyable ride! A page turner from the outset!

Beautifully insightful characterisation, delivered with a good helping of dry wit and with just the right amount of information for the book to play like a sumptuous film in your head!

Paul does justice to our wonderful World War II heroes, capturing perfectly the upstanding nature of their morals, together with their playful, youthful comradery. The Obituarist is a delicious juxtaposition of the pinnacle of our war heroes’ lives, perfectly ‘twisted’ with today’s unscrupulous media-crazed society.

There are some fabulous observations of human behaviour and thought processes, which are simply sublime and rather thought-provoking in their description.

This is not just a well written story which kicks along at a hell of a pace but also a clever multilayered observation of human behaviour, with a backdrop from two eras and what happens with the passing of time. The Obituarist certainly leaves you with something to think about.

Thank you to the most lovely and discerning Su Verhoeven who downloaded The Obituarist from Smashwords.

Thank you also to Speccy for her encouraging review at Me, Mine and other Bits.

And to Emma for “devouring” The Obituarist and writing a “small but perfectly formed” review on her Adventures of an Unfit Mother blog.

So this is what’s happening…

  1. The Obituarist is now available on various platforms, including here on Smashwords.
  2. And here at Amazon.co.uk
  3. And here at Amazon.com
  4. And for kobo devices here.
  5. So far only one typo – a very small one – seems to have sneaked through. Thank you to the spotter for letting me know.
  6. The Obituarist has been awarded “premium status” on the Smashwords site.
  7. People like the cover.
  8. Some people – who I love – have actually downloaded Continue reading


Filed under My Writing, Obituarist

Paddy the Pigeon

The real deal

This is the story of World War Two hero Paddy the Pigeon from Carnlough in Northern Ireland. Unlike the Desert Fox, Mad Dog McGlinchey, Richard the Lionheart, the Border Fox, Carlos the Jackal and the Black Panthers – Paddy really does what it says on the tin. He actually is, or was, a pigeon.

But not just any pigeon. He was the speediest RAF messenger pigeon during the Normandy landings.

Fake #1

The late (as in dead, not slow) Paddy has been in the news because he’s just been honoured with a fly past near his home. A fly past of pigeons. Loads of them. No doubt local car owners were delighted.

Paddy, courtesy of his medal, has Category Three Pigeon Status. (Category One: Airborne Vermin – includes nearly all  other pigeons. Category Two: Stool Pigeons. Continue reading


Filed under history

Those magnificent men

It might be thought ghoulishly unseemly the way I tuck into newspaper obituaries with such relish. But it’s not to revel in another’s passing, but to share in the admiration of some dashing boys own (for it is usually boys) true tales of derring do. The (London) Telegraph is particularly rich in these stories.

But here’s one I spotted on the Press Association news service. It’s a great vivid story of a life. And I noticed three things we had in common – city of birth, a school and his tendency to feign madness while in enemy hands. That ruse appeared attractive to me at trying moments during a difficult day.

So here’s the obit:


 By Ian Graham, Press Association.

Ken MacKenzie

Ken MacKenzie

The ashes of Battle of Britain ace Wing Commander Ken Mackenzie, DFC were scattered today during a poignant ceremony attended by family and friends. Born in Belfast in 1916 the dashing airman who became known as Mad Mac was the last surviving Northern Ireland RAF pilot to take part in the Battle of Britain. He died in June at the age of 92. In tribute to one of the last of “The Few” an RAF Harrier mounted a flypast as the ashes were scattered on Lower Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh. It was piloted by Wing Commander Harvey Smyth from Co Armagh – who also holds the Distinguished Flying Cross – and has just returned from duty in Afghanistan. Wing Commander Mackenzie was credited with destroying at least seven enemy fighters during the Battle of Britain – one of them by ramming it after he had run out of ammunition – and all within three weeks of joining his squadron . Later as a POW he was involved in numerous escape attempts and after being transferred to Stalag Luft III at Sagan feigned madness and developed a stammer for the purpose, a stammer he never lost. Educated at Methodist College Belfast and the city’s Queen University where he studied for an engineering degree, he gained his pilot’s licence at the North of Ireland Aero Club at the age of 16 and joined the RAFVR as an airman pilot in 1939. He arrived at 501 Squadron early in October 1940 and shot down his first Messerschmitt within days. On October 7 he shared in the destruction of another over London docks and then went after a second. When he ran out of ammunition he used the starboard wing tip of his Hurricane to snap off the tailplane of the enemy aircraft sending it diving into the sea. His own plane was damaged and he was eventually forced to make a belly landing in a field near Folkestone. By the summer of 1941 he was a flight commander based in Cornwall and shot down two enemy bombers before himself being forced to bail out over the sea during an offensive over France in the autumn of 1941. He managed to get ashore but was captured by a German patrol. On his way to a POW camp he gave his guards the slip on a crowded Paris railway station but was later recaptured and moved to a POW camp in Germany where he joined numerous escape attempts. After his lengthy spell of feigning madness he was repatriated to England in October 1944 and became an instructor on fighters before being promoted to command the Meteor fighter wing at Stradishall in Suffolk. He went on to serve in the Middle East and Persian Gulf and was serving in Kenya when Ian Smith declared UDI in Southern Rhodesia. The following year he joined a major airlift of fuel in Zambia which led to him being invited to join the newly-independent Zambian Air Force as deputy commander, a post he retaining until 1970. He went on to run Air Kenya in Nairobi as managing director until his retirement in 1973 when he moved to Cyprus. During the 1960s be became deeply involved in motor racing , winning the 1963 Tourists’ Trophy Race at Goodwood. He returned to the UK in 2000 and is survived by his third wife, Margaret and daughter from his first marriage. end

*** Now, there are many ways to excel in life, to do good, to exert a positive influence on the lives of the people around you. Bright lights and dazzling adventure are a poor substitute for good friends and a loving family. And the achievements of charismatic teachers, social reformers or any sort of carer are truly significant and worthwhile.

But what can compare to the magnificence of these men and women of wartime? Sometime soon their obituaries will cease, and the world will have lost some of its vivid dash and vigour. And that’ll be that.

Except that we’re sadly managing to keep war on simmer here and there, to ensure a future stream of death defying death-dealing battle tales in obits for years to come.


Filed under history