Geoffrey Wellum obituary Battle of Britain pilot who wrote a dramatic personal account of his wartime experiences Geoffrey Wellum, author of First Light , in which he looked back on his life as a Spitfire pilot in the second world war. First Light , which was made into a BBC drama in , was drawn from notes he had made as a teenage flier in the Battle of Britain. Aged 18, in spring , Wellum was posted to 92 Squadron — and it was then that he encountered, and flew, a Spitfire for the first time. He fell in love with the Vickers Supermarine Spitfire almost instantly. I must be getting lightheaded! What a pity, in a way, that an aeroplane that can impart such a glorious feeling of sheer joy and beauty has got to be used to fight somebody.

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Right, got it? Well, let me tell you why you should. Firstly, this book has moved, in a single reading, into my top five favourite books of all time. The achievement is all the greater in that the other occupiers of that list were books I read when I was much younger, unmarked, and could receive deeper and more lasting impressions from the books I read. But First Light has broken through the dull accretions, and the dullening, of age.

So, if you would be young again, read First Light. How has it managed to do this? Because it combines two things in a quite extraordinary manner. Firstly, it is the memoir of a boy growing into manhood while flying Spitfires during the Battle of Britain.

As such, it is thrilling, humbling and intense in a way that very little else could be. But there are many other memoirs of the air war. First Light is the record of an old man looking back on his life and asking the question of whether that life was worthwhile.

This is what makes First Light so exceptional: youth recalled in age, and the great question of whether, when Geoffrey Wellum meets his maker, he will have anything to place in the scales to weigh his life as having been well lived.

Although there is an aching sense that Wellum himself is unsure of the answer, to the reader there is no doubt: that we live to read what you have written is testament to your life and its worth.

Thank you, Mr Wellum, for your life and for your book. It is beautifully written, humorous and touching. It made me laugh out loud in places and also brought tears to my eyes in others. The most memorable aspects of this memoir for me were the sense of serene freedom enjoyed by the author whilst in the air during the pre-operational part of his training, the quiet but deep bonds of friendship between the author and his.


Geoffrey Wellum obituary

The first aircraft he flew was the Tiger Moth at Desford airfield in Leicestershire. Two days later Britain declared war on Germany. In May , before his flight training was complete, [4] Wellum was posted to 92 Squadron , which was a combat squadron flying Spitfires. Later, in First Light, he wrote of the experience: "I experienced an exhilaration that I cannot recall ever having felt before. It was like one of those wonderful dreams, a Peter Pan sort of dream".


Geoffrey Wellum



First Light




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