'Aces and Kings'

Darragh Christie, 15 November 2020 · #

Book review: Aces and Kings (1935)

Cover scan by author. Copyright applies.

Co -written with L. W. (Leslie William) Sutherland about Sutherland’s experiences with No. Flying squadron in the Middle East. It was reviewed favorably on it’s release in 1935 (for text translation see below.) Norman lets Sutherland’s vernacular shine through, keeping the engaging subject matter immediate. From the dust jacket:

The author was a pilot in 67 Squadron [Australian] R.F.C., in Palestine during the Great War. He describes the Squadron, its life and adventures. With chapters on Lawrence of Arabia, Ross Smith and “Kings of Men” [in which he pays tribute to the chivalry of Felmy and other German airmen]. “Nine Miles of Dead,” in which he describes the slaughter of two Turkish Armies by the Royal Flying Corps.

ACES AND KINGS” : Australian Airmen In War
HUNDREDS of books have been written about the war and war episodes, and many more are sure to be written and published. They have been good, bad, and indifferent. No matter how often a theme has been exploited in this way there is always a welcome awaiting any new story that is at once informing, entertaining, and worth the while of the people of. discriminating taste. One may quite honestly class ‘Aces and Kings’ as a book qualified on its merits to come within the last mentioned category. It has been written in collaboration by L. W. Sutherland, M.C., D.C.M., and Norman Ellison, whose work as a writer on aviation, and .aviators, has become so widely known through his association with Smith’s Newspapers.

Mr. Sutherland was a pilot in the 67th Squadron (Australian) R.F.C.in Palestine during the war. In this crisply and graphically written book (a copy of which has been received from the publishers, Angus and Robertson Ltd., Sydney),
the joint authors tell of the squadron’s most interesting personnel, Its’ fighting:, methods, the ‘scraps’ the pilots had with the enemy in the air, and it goes on to relate the destruction of two Turkish corps in retreat. The book is admirably illustrated with photographs, and there is a foreword by Mr. F. M. Cutlack, author of the Official History of Australia in the War, Vol. VIII: The Australian Flying Corps, who congratulates the
authors on a work ‘which illuminates the whole story in retrospect.’ It is no small achievement to be able to tell of the naked horror of warfare in all its beastliness and yet brighten the narrative with entertaining sidelights of comedy and
romance. One notes with pleasure that the writers saw tho intimate human side of the strife regardless
of race or class, and that they could so freely admire and respect the gallantry and the manly qualities of the enemy, whether German; Turk, or Austrian. Nothing more poignantly illustrates the folly, the imbecility, and the brutality of war than this — that men who in times of peace could care for and respect each other, quite apart from racial or geographical divisions, are obliged in time of international strife; to murder each other, or be murdered individually and in the mass!

One of the most dazzling figures thrown up by the war – one of the most amazing in history – was ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’ Innumerable books have been written about this strange, elusive genius.. Much of the stuff published about Lawrence has been invented, much of it has been untrue, most of it has been contusing. It Is, therefore, something of a refreshing relief to find stories about him which bear the stamp of authenticity: stories told by those who came into
intimate personal contact with him socially, or as a comrade In arms. In this bright book about 40 pages are devoted to Lawrence. Many of the stories are new, and give a delightful picture of’ the witty and whimsical side of his character. Lawrence disliked social swank, and he disliked Brass Hats, on much the same general principle, apparently, as the average human boy dislikes governesses. Now during his later and more publicised activities in Arabia, Lawrence was very much a social lion. Society in Cairo did its best to rope him in, and make him roar. The big occasion in those days was the Wednesday afternoon dance at Shepheard’s. This was a joint effort by the womenfolk of Cairo – English, French, and Italian social headliners, mostly married, who were vastly concerned about finding a husband, preferably an Englishman, for daughter. Bright young officers were usually the guests.
One afternoon an indefatigable worker roped in Lawrence, and at her arrangement the band struck up ‘See the Conquering Hero Comes,’ as he entered. The lion was unaware of the musical honor being paid him, but when Madame President set out a speech appropriate to the occasion, Lawrence’s face darkened with anger, and finally he interrupted ‘Madame, my first pleasure when I return to the Arabs will-be to tell them of the fact that in Cairo there
exists an organisation of old women who have not yet learned that there is a war in existence. Then the lion stalked out of the room. Next to having Lawrence for a guest it was the ambition of many Cairo ladies to speak to the lion In public and to be seen so doing. One hot afternoon Lawrence was in the hotel patio when up bustled a lady of not-so-tender, years fanning her self vigorously: ‘Ninety-two to-day, Colonel Lawrence. Think of it, ninety-two.’ ‘Many happy returns of the day, Madame!’ replied Lawrence with a smile. Sir Ronald Storrs (governor of Jerusalem) told the story ‘of a well known society lady, newly, arrived from England, who was a guest at a dinner where Lawrence was also a guest. She referred to duchesses by their Christian names, countesses by their pet names, and baronesses by their nick-names. She monopolised the conversation in a heavy, on dit fashion. The other guests looked bored, but Lawrence’s face registered definite disapproval. The ‘floor-holder noticed this. She pulled up: ‘I am afraid,’ she said, ‘my anecdotes do not interest Colonel Lawrence particularly.’ ‘Particularly?’ repeated Lawrence. Why, the anecdotes do not interest me at all.’

Although there are many merry yarns in this book, and many uuiubiiij; personal anecdotes, the grim, stark, ghastly realities of war are not overlooked. There is the terrible story of the attack by aircraft on the retreating Turkish Army, for example— a story of sheer butchery which must have been more than sufficient to satiate the most vindictive and fanatical blood lust ever conceived by tho mind of man. In this chapter, called ‘Nine Miles of Dead,’ the writers vividly describe a veritable inferno of horror which was probably as revolting (in the later stages) for the victors as for the vanquished. The attackers from the air were themselves mentally sick and disgusted before they were through with .
their job. The book Is written mostly in the strong, nervous, short-sentence, style; which made Mark Twain’s prose a
living and enduring force in literature. The whole narrative is. graphic, and holds the interest of the reader, whether he be mere layman or aviation expert.

ACES AND KINGS” (1935, December 12). Referee (Sydney, NSW : 1886 – 1939), p. 16. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article135522125