I’m delighted to welcome Barbara Evans Kinnear to What Cathy Read Next today to talk about Richard Eager: A Pilot’s Story, her late father’s memoir which she co-authored.
The US Air Force celebrates its 75th anniversary on 18th September 2022 and 100% of the profits from the sales of Richard Eager: A Pilot’s Story will be donated to the Air Force Aid Society, the official charity of the US Air Force which has been supporting Air Force members and their families since 1942.
You can find out more about Richard Eager: A Pilot’s Story, including many wonderful photographs, on the book’s dedicated website. I can imagine the book – a true labour of love – making fascinating reading for anyone interested in military history, aviation or wartime memoirs.
About the Book
This is the story of how young Captain Richard Evans became the B-17 ‘Flying Fortress’ pilot for Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery, Commander of the British 8th Army, during missions throughout North Africa and Italy.
Told with humour and humility, Evans’ recollections of cadet training, combat missions and experiences with the ‘top brass’ provide a fascinating first-hand account of a World War II pilot in both the Mediterranean and Pacific theatres of operations.
Nicknamed for his over-eagerness as a cadet, “Richard Eager” shares his stories with great optimism for the future and poignant reflections on growing up.
Format: Paperback (508 pages) Publisher: Kieran Publishing Company
Publication date: 3rd July 2021 Genre: Nonfiction
Find Richard Eager: A Pilot’s Story on Goodreads
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Guest Post – Richard Eager: A Pilot’s Story by Barbara Evans Kinnear
Richard Eager: A Pilot’s Story was published in the United States but the stories in it easily cross the Atlantic Ocean to be enjoyed by British people. Readers from both sides remember that military men and women from the US and the UK shared equally a determination to rid the world of the terror and destruction executed by the Axis countries.
November 11th 2022 is Veteran’s Day in the United States. I mention that date because another similar day, Armed Forces Day, is celebrated in the United Kingdom on June 24th 2023. These days are permanently set aside to remember the armed forces and their dedication to their countries. We not only remember the individuals, but we remember their stories.
It is said that many WWII military veterans do not and did not want to tell their war-torn accounts. We respect their concerns, their emotions, and their memories. But we have lost truths, real-life legends of bravery, tenacity, and history.
Colonel Richard E. Evans felt it was important to tell his story. Not because he was in it, but because his family, friends and fellow veterans were. He wrote a first-hand account of a young man coming of age just as the Second World War erupted. For Richard E. Evans, and for many other young men and women, this was a harrowing and life-changing time to be alive. In the service of their country, average citizens became professional soldiers and had experiences that movie producers can only dream about. As they performed their duties they met, served and protected illustrious and prominent leaders, who are today recognized in the pages of history, but they themselves are not.
During WWII Captain Richard E. Evans was an American B-17 ‘Flying Fortress’ pilot. He flew fifty-five combat missions and was chosen to fly Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery to wherever he needed to be throughout North Africa and Italy. Evans and ‘Monty’ travelled together during a particularly dangerous phase of the war. The Allied forces were just beginning to turn back the brutal Axis armies that had invaded North Africa and were trying to close in on Egypt in an effort to gain control of the strategically vital Suez Canal. Over the deserts of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, a rocky but honest and respectful friendship formed between the young American pilot and Field Marshal Montgomery, later to become 1st Viscount of Alamein.
Although Colonel Evans died without seeing his book in print, he believed he’d written stories filled with compassion, courage, humour, humility and history: poignant anecdotes of his early life in Tennessee, his US Army Air Corps training, his B-17 bombing missions over Africa, Italy and German-held parts of Europe, and, of course, enlightening accounts of his time spent with Monty on long flights and at Monty’s headquarters.
To provide greater context and colour to Colonel Evans’s experiences, I have included in the book much research and additional archival material, including:
- a chronology of his life’s milestones
- a glossary of war terms – many defined with his customary humour
- primary sources – original family letters, Victory Mail, commendations and other documents – that shed light on his fears, reflections and important personal and professional relationships
- photos from his childhood in Tennessee and his years in military service
- maps illustrating the lands and seas over which he flew
- an epilogue detailing his work after the WWII
So, dear reader, I hope as you peruse this post you will be encouraged to read Richard Eager: A Pilot’s Story. As one reviewer has stated, “Most particularly this book shows us how many individual stories it takes to complete the story of WWII. You will remember this book and Richard Eager for a long time to come and be grateful that he was fighting on our side.”