The Life and Times of Frank Thornton Birkinshaw is exactly that, devoting two of its chapters to Frank’s enlistment in the 8th Royal Warwicks and his later transfer to the RFC. Frank celebrated his 17th birthday in the trenches of Ploegsteert, on the Western Front, and his letters home tell the familiar grim story of life in the trenches. He writes to his father stressing the importance of getting away from the trenches, and eight months later his wish was fulfilled when he transferred to the RFC as an Air Mechanic.
He spent time in France and Italy, and was eventually attached to X Flight, where he saw action against the Turkish Ottoman forces. He kept the planes flying, drove Crossley tenders, helped develop advanced landing-grounds, and went on military operations deep into enemy territory to the east of the Hijaz Railway. Frank survived many brushes with death, subsequently became a doctor, and then settled in New Zealand, where he died in 1949.
Review by John B Winterburn, landscape archaeologist to the Great Arab Revolt Project in Southern Jordan.
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