Winged Victory

By V M Yeats

Synopsis

Winged Victory is a 1934 novel by English World War I fighter pilot Victor Maslin Yeates that is widely regarded as a classic description of aerial combat and the futility of war. The novel concerns World War I, the existence pilots lead and the fear involved in flying early biplanes. Its protagonist, Tom Cundall, plans to leave the Royal Air Force when his service is up and live on a West Country farm with his friends. However, by the time he is due to leave the Air Force, all his friends have "gone west". This leaves him a broken man. The narrative combination of action, pathos, humour and humility set against the huge casualties of the RAF in 1918 makes Winged Victory one of the classics of Great War literature. The book is semi-autobiographical, V. M. Yeates having served with 46 Squadron flying Sopwith Camels in 1918 and also having lost all his friends in the war. T. E. Lawrence praised it on its release with the words "Admirable, admirable, admirable. One of the most distinguished histories of the war ... masterly". However, it went out of print due to a lack of a publisher and was soon forgotten. Yeates died in 1934 from tuberculosis.