Hornet's Sting by Derek Robinson [sequel to Goshawk Squadron]

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Hornet's Sting is the savagely humorous story of Captain Stanley Woolley's air war of 1917, a grindingly slow battle of negligible land gain and stupendous human loss. The Royal Flying Corps' strategy is to fly deep offensive patrols low over enemy territory, slogging home against the prevailing wind. It proves to be a policy so calamitous that a squadron could suffer a 100 percent loss in a month. The only way to cope was not with high ideals but low cunning -- and bucketfuls of the messnight punch, Hornet's Sting.The story is heartbreakingly funny and vividly exciting -- without ever losing its awareness of the squalid reality of war or the individual lives involved. The men of Hornet Squadron are a brilliant creation, perhaps the finest work of one of Britain's outstanding comic novelists. The prequel to Hornet's Sting, entitled Goshawk Squadron, was short-listed for the Booker Prize in 1971.