Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? World War One pilots were the knights of the sky, and the press and public idolised them as gallant young heroes. At just twenty-three, Major Stanley Woolley is the old man and commanding officer of Goshawk Squadron. He abhors any notion of chivalry in the clouds and is determined to obliterate the decent, gentlemanly outlook of his young, public school-educated pilots - for their own good. But as the war goes on he is forced to throw greener and greener pilots into the meat grinder.
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Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? World War One pilots were the knights of the sky, and the press and public idolised them as gallant young heroes. At just twenty-three, Major Stanley Woolley is the old man and commanding officer of Goshawk Squadron. He abhors any notion of chivalry in the clouds and is determined to obliterate the decent, gentlemanly outlook of his young, public school-educated pilots - for their own good.
But as the war goes on he is forced to throw greener and greener pilots into the meat grinder. Goshawk Squadron finds its gallows humour and black camaraderie no defence against a Spandau bullet to the back of the head.
Read more Read less. Goshawk Squadron was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in No customer reviews. How does Amazon calculate star ratings? The machine learned model takes into account factors including: the age of a review, helpfulness votes by customers and whether the reviews are from verified purchases. Review this product Share your thoughts with other customers.
Write a customer review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. Verified Purchase. While the book touches all of the pilots in the squadron, it centers around the young, bitterly cynical commander, Major Woolley. Robinson shows him as an eccentric, yet harshly effective commander, who is close to coming apart from the stress of his position. Robinson writes in a darkly humorous way, that accurately describes the struggles both on the ground and in the air although the air combat often becomes horrifying.
Yeates about the air war in France in flying Sopwith Camels. Mr Yeates based his novel on his own experiences in the Royal Flying Corps in , and the novel was widely acclaimed as being an authentic description of what it was actually like to live and fly in combat during World War I.
I highly recommend this book. Five stars. This is a short novel you should enjoy a lot if you are antiwar and interested in World War I aerial combat, which involved planes made of wood and canvass that had an average speed of mph, were prone to catch fire when hit, and were flown by pilots without parachutes.
During the war the press glorified the opposing pilots as chivalrous knights of the sky. The novel debunks this on the basis of the authors reading of diaries, letters and memoirs of pilots who fought in the Great War. The book was short listed for the Booker prize. Unlike his later novels that focused on the fictional "Hornet" squadron, this first effort focused on the "Goshawk" squadron, but the method and characters are essentially similar.
This character is clearly defined as an anti-hero, indeed his behavior and methods may appear repugnant or even borderline insane. However, Robinson succeeds in developing an odd pathos behind Woolley and over the course of the novel the reader should gain understanding of the forces that drive this odd character, if not empathy for him. Modern-day military officers might benefit from studying the command methods of Woolley, particularly in preparing units for combat.
Overall, Goshawk Squadron is a true classic that delivers vivid characters and action that draws the reader further and further into the realities of air combat in the First World War. Goshawk Squadron is set in the period January-March , just before the German spring offensives.
The squadron is equipped with the SE-5a fighter and begins the novel resting and re-building behind the lines. Woolley has been commander of the squadron for one year and although fanatical in his training methods, he is approaching combat burnout. Indeed, Woolley is so cynical but realistic, as it turns out that he believes all his pilots will be dead within three months. In a seemingly futile but rabid effort, Woolley spends the brief period behind the lines to train his squadron to be the most cold-blooded and efficient killers possible.
Woolley's combat ethics clearly clash with the English public school morals of his young pilots; Woolley bans words like "sporting," or "fair fight" from his squadron. In these pages, Robinson depicts how four years of harsh, non-stop combat have produced a killer elite in men like Woolley, whose only philosophy is "kill or be killed.
Indeed, Woolley terrorizes his pilots, to include throwing beer bottles and shooting at slow learners. The pilots in Goshawk Squadron hate their commander, but they are also better prepared to survive when they return to operational service. When the great German offensive begins in March , Goshawk Squadron is committed to try and stem the German onslaught as the British front line crumbles.
Robinson provides excellent detail both on balloon-busting and close air support attacks, circa Woolley does begin to evolve over the course of the novel, as do his pilots. Yet Goshawk Squadron is never a happy unit and modern military readers might question whether the increase in unit efficiency is worth the drop in morale. Woolley makes better killers, but the squadron is visibly falling apart by the end of the novel.
Can a combat unit really function for long based merely on fear of the commander? And what is the result when that long-punishing tyrant suddenly decides to ease up on his troops? These questions are never fully addressed by Robinson, but remain lurking in the corners.
On the other hand, one of the great scenes in the novel is a confrontation between Woolley and a REMF colonel from headquarters. Unlike other military novels that attempt to portray the clash between the war fighter and rear echelon types, there is no effort toward subterfuge by Woolley. Instead, Woolley starts blasting away at the colonel with his pistol until he wins the argument "You can't kill me," says the colonel. In a war where thousands disappeared without a trace, this is a convincing threat.
Robinson's point here is that it is difficult to threaten a man with theoretical punitive actions when he is facing the very real threat of death in combat on a daily basis. Advice to REMFs: don't go to the front line in a war and threaten combat soldiers with administrative actions, if you do, wear a flak jacket.
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Goshawk Squadron is a black comedy novel by Derek Robinson which tells of the adventures of a squadron of SE5a pilots from January to the time of the German spring offensive of March It introduces the character Stanley Woolley, the commander of the squadron — a man who Robinson himself says is not the sort of man you'd want your daughter to marry. Goshawk Squadron follows a front-line squadron of British pilots late in the war. The commanding officer is Major Stanley Woolley, a cold, cruel, and sour taskmaster, training the squadron with brutality. Despite being only 23 years old, the years of war and slaughter have hardened Woolley into a humorless cynic. Woolley especially hates the delusions that replacements have about air combat being gallant and chivalrous.