16 AUGUST 1930, Page 26

A Record of Great Deeds

Fights and Flights. By Air-Commodore Samson. (Berm- 2Is.) FEW men had a more exciting " war " than Air-Commodore Samson. A real pioneer of flight, he distinguished himself on almost every Front, on sea, land and air. Indeed, the Com- modore's problem in writing this book can never have been that of any lack of material. The problem was one of how to convey to the reader the excitement, the terror, and the wonderful qualities of human endurance which must have been exhibited so often.

And in this the Commodore is not perhaps quite so successful as he was in his military exploits. Still, the book remains a great record of amazing deeds. It contains several excellent stories, the most attractive concerning the present Secretary of State for India. Of Lieutenant Benn, Commodore Samson writes :—

" The chief observer was Lieutenant Wedgwood Bonn, M.P., now (in 1930) Secretary of State for India. I am pleased to say that it was by my pulling of the right strings that I got him the local rank of Captain, his first advancement. I soon realized that in Been I had found gold. He had a very keen brain, and a distinct flair for the organization of our intelligence into a quirk and accurate system, whereby yon could at a glance see the situation in Palestine, Syria, and the Red Sea, which of course altered from day to day. In addition, he shortly devised a system of intelligence boxes which could be got up to date within half an hour, and when any ship went to sea the box arrived on board complete, not only with the latest state of affairs, but replete with all the charts, documents, &c., required."

There is also a particularly good account of an expedition to a Turkish position, where great difficulties were encountered :—

" I took Bonn with me in a Short, and we had rather a difficult flight, as there was a considerable downward trend of air in the cup formed by the Taurus Mountains on one aide and the Amanus Mountains on the other. . . . In the middle of one bad spasm, when, as the saying goes, ' all hands man the pump,' Bean leant over me and shoved a bit of paper into my mouth. Thinking ho had seen something highly important, I let go of the wheel with one hand, and after some struggle managed to spread out the paper and decipher what he had written. It read as follows Aren't the shadows on the mountains lovely t ' I never felt nearer killing anyone in my life."

Let us hope that the gallant Captain is handling the Indian situation with equal sang-froid!