• Above the Trenches

  • The Short and Heroic Lives of the Young Aviators Who Fought and Died in the First World War
  • By: Ian Mackersey
  • Narrated by: Roger Davis
  • Length: 16 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Above the Trenches

By: Ian Mackersey
Narrated by: Roger Davis
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Publisher's Summary

The 1914-18 conflict narrated through the voices of the men whose combat was in the air. 

The empty chairs belonged, all too briefly, to the doomed young First World War airmen who failed to return from the terrifying daily aerial combats above the trenches of the Western Front. The edict of their commander in chief was the missing aviators were to be immediately replaced. Before the new faces could arrive, the departed men's vacant seats at the squadron dinner table were sometimes poignantly occupied by their caps and boots, placed there in a sad ritual by their surviving colleagues as they drank to their memory. 

Life for most of the pilots of the Royal Flying Corps was appallingly short. If they graduated alive and unmaimed from the flying training that killed more than half of them before they reached the front line, only a few would for very long survive the daily battles they fought over the ravaged moonscape of no-man's-land. Their average life expectancy at the height of the war was measured only in weeks. Parachutes that began to save their German enemies were denied them. 

Fear of incarceration, and the daily spectacle of watching close colleagues die in burning aircraft, took a devastating toll on the nerves of the world's first fighter pilots. Many became mentally ill. As they waited for death, or with luck the survivable wound that would send them back to 'Blighty', they poured their emotions into their diaries and streams of letters to their loved ones at home. 

Drawing on these remarkable testimonies and pilots' memoirs, Ian Mackersey has brilliantly reconstructed the First Great Air War through the lives of its participants. As they waited to die, the men shared their loneliness, their fears, triumphs - and squadron gossip - with the families who lived in daily dread of the knock on the door that would bring the War Office telegram in its fateful green envelope. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Ian Mackersey (P)2021 Orion Publishing Group Limited
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"This moving book uses letters and diaries to evoke the terrible cost of such warfare.... Sleepless nights, separated lovers and grieving parents are recalled with painful immediacy in this meticulously researched tribute to those who died or were lucky enough to survive." (Daily Mail)

What listeners say about Above the Trenches

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They went to edge and some came back

Great book about the generation of men that took the skies and fought with poor equipment and trained and some came out in the end. If you like ww1 history you will enjoy this book

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Most shocking of war experiences

Brilliant scholarship. The fighter pilots of WWI were a special breed of the young and steely. They clearly had little fear taking part in the new and uncharted territory if aerial warfare. Since this was the infancy of flight much less aerial warfare, to say it was risky is to say skydiving without a parachute is acceptable. To think that these young men could expect to live maybe 3 weeks on average was normal talk and thought. What unfathomable courage, and sacrifice for one’s country.

Ian Mackersey does an exceptional job of personalizing the book, with attention to many of the most famous fighter pilot’s lives. He spends a great deal of time on the handsome and often photographed Albert Ball, the Red Baron, and other personalities like Edward Mannock, that dominated the Skies of WWI. There are quite a few and the sets the book start. Others books by Peter Hart, Joshua Levine, and Gordon Corrigan, to name a few a have also managed to bring the air war of WWI to life. Mackersey is in the best company. And with the incomparable Roger Davis narrating, the book is further elevated to the highest tier.

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Brilliant

Brilliant book! Its very informative and descriptive. Highly recommend to anyone who loves aviation.

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  • Michael Boultby
  • 11-26-21

Ruined by voiceover

Like a dalek reading you a bedtime story, waste of a credit, awful stuff