Brief Glory - The Life of Arthur Rhys Davids DSO MC, Alex Revell

Brief Glory - The Life of Arthur Rhys Davids DSO MC, Alex Revell

Brief Glory - The Life of Arthur Rhys Davids DSO MC, Alex Revell

This biography looks at the life of a classic member of the 'lost generation' (in its British context of the most promising members of the generation that died in the First World World). Arthur Rhys Davids's parents were amongst the most brilliant academics of their own generations, establishing the study of Pali, the language of Bhuddist scripture, in the west. Their son showed a similar level of promise, excelling at Eton, and in the normal course of events would have progressed smoothly on to Oxford.

Unfortunately for Arthur Rhys Davids his time at Eton ended in the middle of the First World War. He enrolled in the RFC, and in the summer of 1917 came to the public's attention as one of the most successful British fighter pilots of the period. The height of his fame came after he shot down the German ace Werner Voss, although he had already won the Military Cross by that date.

Rhys Davids comes across as a likeable character for most of the book, although I must admit the tone of some of his letters in his early days in the RFC do grate on modern sensibilities somewhat, but that is entirely excusable in someone who went directly from the sheltered world of Eton into a very technical service, where he met mechanically minded men for what was probably the first time.

Inevitably there is an increasingly melancholy tone to the book as we approach it, and Rhys Davids's end, although that never completely overwhelms the sense of Rhys Davids's enjoyment of his life in the RFC. The copious use of his own letters, often supported by the corresponding letter from his mother or sister give us a clear idea of the man, and give this book a very different tone to many otherwise similar biographies.

1 - Boyhood
2 - King's Scholar
3 - War
4 - Royal Flying Corps
5 - The Great Adventure
6 - Estrée Blanche
7 - Home Defence
8 - Werner Voss
9 - Final Days

Author: Alex Revell
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 222
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
Year: 2010

Brief Glory: Life of Arthur Rhys Davids DSO MC: The Life of Arthur Rhys Davids, DSO, MC and Bar Hardcover – Import, 20 May 2010

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BRIEF GLORY. The Life of Arthur Rhys Davids DSO MC.

Arthur Rhys Davids was shot down and killed in October 1917. He was just twenty and had been flying over the Western Front with 56 Squadron for six months. He had entered the Royal Flying Corps direct from Eton College. In his brief operational career he was awarded the Military Cross twice and the Distinguished Service Order once. In the opinion of the commanding officer of his squadron he deserved the Victoria Cross. He came to public fame through shooting down the German ace Werner Voss.

Rhys Davids was more than an outstanding fighter pilot, he was a man of thought as well as a man of action. Coming from an intellectual family, he was a brilliant classicist and popular with his fellow pilots in the RFC including James McCudden.

Alex Revell has written a sensitive and deeply moving biography. It is based on letters from Rhys Davids early boyhood days at Eton to his last letter written on the night before he died.

Alex Revell has written many aviation books and is respected amongst literary community