View Full Version : N Davies-Williams "Gerald's War"

Don Clark
7th September 2023, 22:52
N Davies-Williams Gerald's War: The true and tragic tale of one man's life in peace and war (Davies-Williams 2021).
Released December 2021 on Amazon as Kindle, print-on-demand paperback and hardback, at www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09NH3CPLN

This book is a novel about the life and RAF service of the author's uncle, Gerald Davies of Flintshire, derived from much original material, with added fictional events vividly described.

Davies, then aged 18, joined the RAF in 1936 as an AC2: Aircraftman 2nd Class, the usual entry level for service as an airman. First trained and qualifying as an armourer, he re-mustered for training as an Air Observer in 1939, qualifying late that year and made Sergeant with 207 Squadron. Commissioned Pilot Officer in July 1940 Davies was soon posted to the Middle East for service as an Observer in Egypt. He badly wanted to be a pilot and that year was twice recommended for pilot training.

Joining 211 Squadron RAF in September 1940, by the Spring of 1941 P/O Davies, flying as Observer to the CO Sqn Ldr JR Gordon-Finlayson DSO DFC with P/O Arthur Geary DFC in the turret, had about 70 Blenheim I ops to his credit over the Western Desert and later in Greece.

On 13 April 1941, Davies was posted missing from an unescorted daylight operation by 211 Squadron over Northern Greece. That afternoon, the six Blenheim Is were all shot down by the Luftwaffe. Of the 18 aircrew, there were just two survivors on the day. Sqn Ldr AT Irvine as the new CO, Davies as his Observer, and Geary as WOp/AG were among the dead. Much later, the missing were recovered and interred in Phaleron War Cemetery.

The author's years of effort in gathering so many original personal and other records, all included in the book, is highly creditable. On that framework he has aimed to create a life for Gerry Davies, in fictional form. This the author is careful to explain, from start to finish. His aim was to create, for the general reader, a memorial to the life and RAF service of a cherished relative, and in this the book succeeds.

While historical purists may find plenty to shake their heads over in this novel, in gathering so much historical documentation the author can hardly be faulted, nor can he in the sincerity of his vivid fictional account. For example, readers should not regard the tale of Gerald as pilot leading a Blenheim Delivery Flight out to to the Middle East as fact.

If it eventually turned out that Alan Godfrey's (http://www.211squadron.org/bristol_blenheim_i.html#Godfrey) death in 1946 was other than as long rumoured, that news only later reached the author. Reading the tale as written, best not to be distracted by the remaining typos, such as the now common but mistaken "Aircraftsman" for the correct Aircraftman.

I've known Nigel Davies-Williams since 2001 and I am most grateful to him and his late mother Ruby Williams for making much personal information available to me, from which I was able to compile a more formal summary of his Uncle Gerald's RAF service. My 211 Squadron webpage for Observer P/O G Davies 44072 is at www.211squadron.org/g_davies.html
I understand from Nigel that his book, in all forms, has achieved a quite considerable number of sales.

Don Clark

Don Clark
15th September 2023, 22:35
In this sincere tribute to a close relative's war service and death, Nigel chose, after some advice, to take the core formal records he had uncovered in years of research, to weave from them a sincere but "realist fiction" dramatisation, on the basis that such a tale would reach a much wider readership. In this he has succeeded, on the sales so far.

However, after hearing from other contacts, it seems that parts of the fictional account have been read as firm factual record. On reflection then, and with a little revision, therefore included the above notes on Gerald's War in my 211 Squadron site's Sources and further reading page here (http://www.211squadron.org/sources.html#GeraldsWar).

Don Clark
19th September 2023, 23:29
For interest, Nigel tells me that Amazon sets the cover price, their commission being 70% of that.

As for Gerald's War, sales in the past year ran at about 600 copies across all forms - a quite remarkable result, seems to me.

If publication to a wide audience is the aim, rather than revenue, may be worth considering.