ACA Woking News by Bill Bawden, PRO

21 August 2012

Roald Dahl’s War

;Graham Laurie
Graham Laurie

The recent meeting of the AirCrew Association at Fairoaks Aerodrome welcomed the return of guest speaker Graham Laurie of the Chiltern ACA to tell the story of Roald Dahl before the celebrated author of mystery and children’s books became a household name.

When World War II began in 1939, Dahl was working for the Shell oil company in Zanzibar and Tanganyika.  He promptly left to join the RAF in Nairobi and train as a pilot.  In 1940 he joined No 80 Squadron in the Western Desert but crash-landed his Gladiator fighter resulting in multiple injuries requiring his prolonged hospitalisation in Egypt.

Rejoining his squadron, now re-equipped with Hurricanes, Dahl took part in the campaign and withdrawal from Greece and Crete in 1941 and shot down at least two enemy aircraft before the effects of his earlier injuries resulted in his being ‘grounded’ and sent back to Britain.

Graham Laurie’s excellent illustrated narrative concluded with the account of Roald Dahl’s subsequent appointment as Assistant Air Attache in Washington DC.  It was during his time in the USA that Dahl began writing was stories, based on his own experiences, for magazines.  This was to lead to his career as the author of Tales of the Unexpected, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and much more.

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