Accounts of the air war of 1939–45 still hold a fascination for many: any comprehensive second hand bookshop will have at least one shelf devoted to aviation or war memoirs. My own longstanding interest began with a childhood awareness of my father's involvement in the war. Born in Maryborough and educated at Brisbane State High, he had been a pilot, first in the RAAF, then the RAF. He had joined up on his eighteenth birthday in 1942, gained his wings in Australia, received advanced training in England on Blenheim bombers then Beaufighters, and volunteered for the Middle East. But even these scant details I only managed to interrogate from him in the past year or so. Fifty years after the war, he has just started to talk about it to me, though selectively. Most of his friends were killed, either shot down or in flying accidents. As well, the Beaufighter was notorious as one of the most difficult and dangerous planes to fly. One pilot in my father's unit sensibly asked to be transferred to a different kind of plane because he found he couldn't handle the twin-engined fighter; the response of the Commanding Officer was to have the pilot immediately classified LMF — Lack of Moral Fibre — a fate most aircrew considered worse than death. It is absurd incidents such as this — brave men condemned by inflexible superiors, and so many others killed in accidents, often in landing or taking off under extreme conditions of weather and weariness — that emerge in the accounts by survivors as an antidote to more idealised reconstructions of the air war.