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209 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1986
And the giraffes would incline their heads very slightly and stare down at me with languorous demure expressions, but they never ran away. I found it exhilarating to be able to walk freely among such huge graceful wild creatures and talk to them as I wished.
It is a fact, and I verified it carefully later, that out of those sixteen, no less than thirteen were killed in the air within the next two years
“I often amazed myself by the way I behaved when I was certain that there were no other human beings within fifty miles. All my inhibitions would disappear and I would shout, ‘Hello, giraffes! Hello! Hello! Hello! How are you today?’ And the giraffes would incline their heads very slightly and stare down at me with languorous demure expressions, but they never ran away. I found it exhilarating to be able to walk freely among such huge graceful wild creatures and talk to them as I wished.”
“I was twenty-three and I had not yet been trained to kill anyone. I wasn’t absolutely sure that I could bring myself to give the order to open fire on a bunch of German civilians in cold blood should the necessity arise. I was feeling altogether very uncomfortable in my skin. [...]
What was I going to do, I asked myself, if they refused to go back and tried to barge their way through? I knew there and then that I could never quite bring myself to give the order for the machine-gun to mow them all down. It would be an appalling massacre. I stood there and said nothing.”
We’ve been doing some pretty intensive flying just lately – you may have heard about it a little on the wireless. [...] We’ve lost 4 pilots killed in the Squadron in the last 2 weeks, shot down by the French. Otherwise this country is great fun and definitely flowing with milk and honey …”
- Excerpt from one of the letters to his mother, many of which are included in the book.