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Woody: A Fighter Pilot's Album
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Author
Hugh A. Halliday
Pages
144
Year of Publication
1987
ISBN
0-9690703-8-1

The late 1930s was a time of restlessness for many young Canadians. For some, nothing short of a trip to England and a visit to the RAF recruiter could satisfy their urge for adventure. One who followed this path was Vernon C. Woodward, a British Columbian from Victoria.

This book is "Woody's" biography, and it tells, for the first time in detail, the story of one of Canada's greatest fighter pilots. It traces his flying career from Tiger Moths in Scotland, then on to advanced training and out to pre-war Egypt to his first posting. Life there is easy — comfortable messes, the sports field, beaches, and lots of flying. But all the luxuries are forgotten as war breaks out and the young pilots are flung against a seemingly overwhelming enemy. They do their best, flying their little biplane Gladiators. Woody records his first kill as the pace of combat accelerates daily.

Soon Woody's squadron is called to Greece to face even harsher odds with an onslaught of Messerschmitts and Junkers. Woody's tally of kills grows steadily, as does that of many of his mates, but one by one he is losing his friends as the unequal struggle continues. Inevitably the British must withdraw. They make their last stand on Crete, where the situation is hopeless from the start. Soon there is not a single air-worthy Hurricane and Woody and his fellow airmen must take rifle and Tommy gun in hand to fight rugged German parachutists at close quarters.

In the end, the British forces make a humiliating retreat to Egypt, where Woody again faces the enemy and records his 20th and final kill, making him one of Canada's leading aces of either world war.

Woody stayed on in the post-war RAF as CO of a squadron of Hornets, then a wing of Hunters. Finally he flew Canberras before retiring from the RAF. After a second career in civil aviation in Australia, he returned to his native Victoria.