I finished the book yesterday, and I have learned so much about the Smith brothers.
In late 2001 Rod Smith, one of Canada’s greatest air aces of the Second World War, with 13 kills to his credit, took his life when old age and its illnesses had begun to depress him. He left behind a part-written autobiography. At the request of his family, his friend, the historian Christopher Shores, took on the task of completing Rod’s story along with that of his brother Jerry, who disappeared flying at sea in the war.
Rod Smith and his brother Jerry both became Spitfire pilots during the Second World War, leaving their home in Canada only to find themselves – purely by chance – serving together in the defence of Malta during 1942. Jerry had already gained some fame as the first pilot ever to land a Spitfire on an aircraft carrier (due to a faulty fuel feed). Both showed immediate promise as fighter pilots, but by the end of that year Jerry was dead – last seen chasing a German bomber out to sea – while Rod had become an ‘ace’ and would receive the DFC. Two years later, serving as a squadron commander in western Europe, he claimed six Messerschmitts within a single week, and was involved in the shooting down of the first German jet aircraft to fall to British Commonwealth fighters. He ended the war as one of Canada’s highest scoring aces, with more than 13 victories to his credit. Qualifying after the war both as an aeronautical engineer and as a barrister, he brought a keen and analytical intellect to his passionate interest in aviation and aerial combat, writing many articles of great depth and insight. His suicide aged 80 in 2002 when old age and illness had begun to depress him was a great loss to the world of aviation history. This book, containing many diary entries from each of the brothers, is a testament to them.