Print Story Book Review: Australian Hawk Over The Western Front
By cam (Sat Aug 19, 2006 at 09:24:24 AM EST) Stan Dallas, Royal Naval Air Service, World War I, Books (all tags)

Adrian Hellwig has undertaken a difficult task for all historians; writing a gripping narrative that is truthful to history, its subject; as well as incorporating and addressing the myths and controversies around that subject that have built up over time. Not an easy task but one that Adrian has done well in his book on Australian ace Stan Dallas; Australian Hawk Over The Western Front.

Another problem that historians face is the balance between primary sources and the author's narrative of events. Adrian has lent to the former aided by the sheer personality of Stan Dallas that comes through in his log book entries and letters home.

As a consequence the large numbers of primary sources help the book in moving along at a good pace. For example some of the log book entries include;

Ostend Fighting Patrol saw Hun far below and waited for him to come up and settle the argument. He didn't hear me.

Or another on being shelled to distraction;

Accompanied French reconnaissance to Bruges. Had some hot pie on the way back - one of those rare occasions when one wishes the Wright Brothers had never invented aeroplanes. Was rather deaf from the shells, got a few holes in the wings, but chased a Hun over Ostend.

Dallas' log book entries on the Sopwith Triplane are equally fascinating. Dallas' also wrote in his letters with his personality shining through;

I love leading my flight into action - flying today Dad is just like riding together on horseback although you cannot hear the other fellow speak. I have employed my own methods of fighting and I am quite satisfied with them.

But Adrian does not focus solely on Dallas' career and other primary sources, the research is complete on Dallas' life as a youngster and how he made his way to England to join the Royal Naval Air Service.

There is also plenty of discussion on the various aircraft, especially the Sopwith Triplanes he flew. Modellers will be eager to see the photographs of N500 'Brown Bread' and N5436 in the centre of the book.

No in detail discussion of Stan Dallas is complete without looking into his victory score, which can be between thirty and fifty-two depending on the researcher. Adrian goes into this issue in detail comparing log book entries, letters home, combat in the air reports and prior research from other historians.

This is the first book dedicated to Stan Dallas and I learnt more than a few things from it; for one, I won't be referring to him as Rod Dallas any longer.

The book contains wonderful research gems like how Stan got his nickname 'Bregeut' as a young pilot amongst others. But more importantly, Adrian, despite his detailed research, has let Stan's personality come through the book.

The big strapping young lad from Queensland with an eye for fun, art and adventure proved a brilliant aviator and leader. Ranking as one of Australia's greatest aces, if not the greatest.

This book is well worth reading for anyone interested in the details of Stan Dallas' life and career.


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Book Review: Australian Hawk Over The Western Front | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Disclaimer by cam (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 11:27:54 AM EST
I know the author. The AFC historical community is a small one. This article is impartial in its views toward the book.

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

+1VSTFP by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #2 Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 12:09:46 PM EST
So, you liked the book then, by the sound of it!

Yes, yes I did. by cam (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 01:12:29 PM EST
It is special interest and probably needs some knowledge of the controversies surrounding Stan Dallas, especially in the latter half of the book. The letters and log book entries are probably enough for a lay person to get into the book. It is also written in a modern fast style as well, so you dont get stuck on long paragraphs or too many big words.

It also has some original research that clears up some issues relating to Dallas's career too. So it is well written, has new information, deals with the controversies in an open manner and lets the Dallas's personality shine through.

Good stuff IMO.

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by yicky yacky (4.00 / 2) #3 Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 12:32:58 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by yicky yacky

+1 FP [nt] by vorheesleatherface (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 02:24:19 PM EST

Ever thought by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #6 Fri Aug 18, 2006 at 12:27:35 AM EST
Of taking your interest in military history further  career-wise?

It's political correctness gone mad!

You mean being a serious author? by cam (4.00 / 1) #7 Fri Aug 18, 2006 at 02:01:37 AM EST
The main areas I am interested in are pretty niche. If I was writing on "How America beat the Nazis" I reckon there would be a big market for it. But a small relatively unknown area of Australian aviation history would be a hard way to make a living.

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

[ Parent ]
It's not just about making a living by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #8 Fri Aug 18, 2006 at 02:18:52 AM EST
Spread the knowledge...

It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
The answer to that by ad hoc (4.00 / 1) #9 Fri Aug 18, 2006 at 08:44:34 AM EST
is write a screen play staring Mel Gibson and Nicole Kidman.
Close friendships and a private room can offer most of the things love does.
[ Parent ]
Except by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #10 Sat Aug 19, 2006 at 03:55:01 PM EST
Mel would insist on playing a German.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Book Review: Australian Hawk Over The Western Front | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback