Among those who fought in the ferocious battles for the skies during the Second World War, some - shot down, or forced to ditch - had to confront an exceptionally pitiless enemy: the sea. DOWN IN THE DRINK tells the astonishing stories of nine aircrews who suffered this horrifying plight, from the captured Beaufort crew being flown to prison in Italy, who wrested control of the plane and set a new course for freedom while dangerously low on fuel, to the Mosquito fighter-bomber pilot adrift off Burma on the sinking wreckage of his plane, concussed, his bones broken, with only a flask of whisky to keep himself going. These are tales of bravery and resilience, loyalty and friendship. They give stirring proof that there is no limit to human courage.
Ralph Barker served in the RAF during the war, in the course of which his Beaufort was hit in combat and he survived a crash on take-off in which his pilot and navigator were killed. After the war, he worked in civil aviation for a short time, before rejoining the RAF, to work in the secretariat until 1961. DOWN IN THE DRINK (1955) launched a successful career as a writer, in the course of which he has written over a dozen books on the RAF, books on terrorism and war at sea, and hundreds of feature articles for the Sunday Express.