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Storm at Sunset

By Ian Hall

The end is only the beginning…

Aircraftman Arthur Brownlow and his wife Joy are among the cheering thousands in London celebrating VE Day in May 1945.

But the young couple have heard the chastening words of Winston Churchill:

“We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan, with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued. We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad.”

Arthur knows that he is not, like many of his fellow conscripted airmen, about to be demobbed. He is to be sent to the Far East as a member of 31 Squadron RAF, which is equipped with a fleet of battered Dakotas ferrying supplies into remote jungle bases and bringing out a wretched human cargo from Japanese internment camps.

Even after the Japanese surrender, it’s grim work for Brownlow and fellow crew members.

They keep a stiff upper lip, but harmony is threatened with the arrival of a subversive Glaswegian docker Jock Patterson and his mutinous message.

However, life is not without its lighter moments – and wireless operator Freddie falls in love with Nelli who, following her release from internment, is working with the RAF. Her Dutch origins hint at the country’s history under colonial rule.

Resentment at centuries of colonisation, first by the West then by the Japanese, is coming to the surface, and the RAF men are soon to feel the backlash in the most horrific way possible.

Freddie is dropped off by ‘U for Uncle’ at a base near where Nelli’s father has been detained, but the Dak fails to return to pick him up.

What shocking news is about to emerge from Bekasi, where ‘Uncle’ forced landed? Can Wing Commander Brian Macnamara deal with the poisonous Patterson and get the squadron’s mission completed?

How do men react when they discover a loved one at home has betrayed them? Will the conscripted men of 31 Squadron ever be able to cope in Civvy Street again?

Ian Hall’s impressive Storm at Sunset portrays the RAF’s little-appreciated work in the aftermath of the Second World War – its all-too human face and the political and military backlash that affected even their essentially humanitarian mission.

Ian Hall spent thirty-two years as an RAF pilot, including a tour commanding the modern 31 Squadron equipped with Tornado jets, before retiring as a group captain. He then flew turbo-props for regional airlines for a further twelve years. Married with three grown-up children, he lives in Norfolk.
Other books by the author are Jaguar Boys, Tornado Boys, Fast Jets – and Other Beasts and a celebration of the centenary of 31 Squadron RAF, A Goldstar Century.

also by Ian Hall


Ian Hall
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