David Knights' Weblog

June 8, 2017

Book review: The Life of Maverick Ace Adrian Warburton

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 9:12 am
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Book review: The Life of Maverick Ace Adrian Warburton
Author: Tony Spooner
208 Pgs
ISBN 978 0907 579434

Adrian Warburton was one of the most unusual personalities of WWII. He was an average pilot at best.  He never seemed to master the concept of torque generated by piston engines on takeoff.  He took a bride early in the war and then abandoned her and never looked back.  He was a reconnaissance pilot, who at one time was the highest scoring pilot on the island of Malta.  Adrian Warburton was all this and much more.

The author, Tony Spooner, served briefly with Warburton during his time on Malta.  He left such an impression on the author that he felt compelled to write a book chronicling Warburton’s life.  It is good for us readers that he did as this book provides an insight into one of the most unusual personalities of WWII.

The son of an RN officer, Warburton grew up in relative privilege. When WWII came, he became an RAF pilot, though he was only rated as average, due in large part to his poor takeoffs and landings.  He served without distinction in the UK and his personal life there was a mess, with a marriage that seemed to be motivated more by a desire that someone should benefit from his eventual death, rather than from undying love. He also ran up debts he could not pay, a nearly unpardonable sin for an RAF officer, even in wartime.

In order to avoid embarrassment to Warburton, his commanding officer arranged to transfer him to Malta to get him away from his problems.  This had a profound effect on Warburton’s life.  Once in Malta, Warburton became synonymous with the resistance of the island thru his exploits.  Flying a twin engine Martin Maryland, he began flying recon missions all over Sicily, Italy and North Africa.  In the process he shot down numerous enemy aircraft and gained a reputation for always coming back with the photos that were needed.

After the Allies drove the Axis from North Africa and invaded Sicily and then Italy, the pressure on Malta was relieved.  In many ways this had a profound effect on Warburton and once the pressure of constant danger was off the nerves that would have long ago gotten to lessor men finally seemed to catch up with Warby as he was known to all associated with him.

Flying from Europe in preparation for D-Day, Warby disappeared over Europe while Flying a F-5E (the recon version of the P-38) When the author wrote this book, Warburton’s ultimate fate was unknown.  However, party inspired by this book a number of people teamed up and in 2002 the crash site of Warburton’s aircraft was located and some of his remains recovered.  Those remains were buried in England shortly thereafter in a ceremony attended by high ranking RAF officials and Warburton’s wife.

This short review fails to do justice to this book and all of the detail it provides on this most interesting of WWII personalities.  I highly recommend picking up a copy.  You won’t regret it.

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