In comparison to their British and German counterparts, the French airmen of the Great War are not well known. Yet their aerial exploits were just as remarkable, and their contribution to the war effort on the Western Front was equally important. That is why Ian Sumner's vivid history of the men of the French air force during the war is of such value. He tells their story using the words of the pioneering pilots and observers themselves, drawn from memoirs, diaries, letters, and contemporary newspapers, magazines and official documents. The recollections of the airmen give an authentic portrait of their role and their wartime careers. They cover recruitment and training, reconnaissance and artillery spotting, aerial combat, ground strafing and bombing, and squadron life. They also highlight the technical and tactical innovations made during those hectic years, as well as revealing the airmen's attitude to the enemy - and their thoughts about the ever-present threat of injury and death.
Ian Sumner is a prolific writer and researcher who specializes in local and military history. He has made a particular study of the French army and air force during the First World War, his many books on the subject including The French Army 1914-18, French Poilu 1914-18 and First Battle of the Marne 1914. He is the author, with Francois Vauvillier, of The French Army 1939-45, and has also published books on the Royal Navy, the British army, the Indian Army, the Anzacs, the German air force and the history of Yorkshire. His most recent book is They Shall Not Pass: The French Army on the Western Front 1914-1918.