This is Volume Three of Middleton's four volume history of WW1 military aviation, published in 1920, covering the war in the air on all fronts. Each volume included a superb full colour frontispiece and twelve full page black and white illustrations — capturing the extraordinary early days of flying. This volume includes the work of the Royal Naval Air Service, the Battle of the Somme, the aircraft developments of 1917, Air Raids, and the emergence of the most celebrated Ace of WW1, Manfred Von Richthofen.
Edgar Middleton (1894-1939): when war broke out he joined the Essex Regiment as a temporary Second Lieutenant on 11th November 1914. He relinquished his commission on 5th May 1915 to transfer into the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), where he was given a probationary commission as Flight Sub-Lieutenant. After training and qualifying in ballooning at Roehampton he observed the second bombardment of Ypres from an observation balloon. Soon afterwards, having suffered a "serious mental breakdown”, Middleton received a letter from the Admiralty, dated 15th December 1915, stating that he had been found unsuitable for the Air Service and terminating his appointment.
He then tried to get work as a journalist and wrote articles for the Daily Mail under the name "Air Pilot”, and it was in this capacity that an unfortunate incident occurred which led to him being arrested and tried under the Defence of the Realm Act. On 12th April 1916, Middleton visited Dover and met up with former colleagues in the RNAS, telling them, "I have come to Dover to do a bit of spying for Pemberton Billing”. Soon afterwards, he was arrested and appeared at Dover magistrates court on 20th April where, despite pleading not guilty, he was committed for trial charged with "unlawfully attempting to elicit information with respect to the movements or disposition of His Majesty's forces (to wit, the Royal Naval Air Service) such as might be of value to the enemy.” At his trial in Maidstone on 22nd June he pleaded guilty, and the Lord Chief Justice dealt leniently with him, on the basis that he was trying to work for the improvement of the Air Service, had no evil motive and was loyal to his country. He was bound over in the sum of £25.
Middleton continued as a journalist, but also turned his hand to writing books, drawing upon his experiences in the Air Service to produce several volumes, including Aircraft (1916), The Way of the Air: A Description of Modern Aviation (1917), Glorious Exploits of the Air (1917), and the illustrated four volume set, The Great War in the Air (1920).
Middleton went on to have a very successful career as playwright. His first play, the comedy Potiphar's Wife, which was staged in London in 1927, was described by the Evening Standard as the "Play that shocks London”. This one play is said to have earned Middleton the enormous sum of eighty thousand pounds.
In good condition. The boards show minor signs of wear, some fading and a few marks. The binding and hinges are very good and secure. The text is in good condition with a few marks and some occasional foxing. The plates are in good condition.
Published: 1920 With a colour frontispiece & 12 full page plates Maroon boards Dimensions : 165mm x 240mm Pages: 240 (plus plates) Weight: 800g