The author Malcolm Smith has been the Editor of Jabberwock, the bi-annual journal of the Fleet Air Arm Museum, for two years and has inherited the complete archive of editions dating back to the formation of SOFFAAM in 1979. In browsing through these, it quickly became apparent to him that they provided a unique archive of reminiscence of the men and (occasionally) women who served in, or have been associated with, the Fleet Air Arm since its formation in 1918. The Fleet Air Arm were the branch of the British Royal Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft, and its history is a varied one as these accounts attest.
The Royal Navy, in common with the other armed services, expanded enormously during the Second World War, so anecdotes from this period naturally predominate. To illustrate the varied experiences of the contributors, these are grouped into “War in the West” and “War in the East”. Whether drawn from peace or war, however, what emerges from these pages is a particular spirit, peculiar to the Fleet Air Arm and reflecting its somewhat hybrid nature; a spirit derived from a high level of professional competence combined with a certain irreverence towards Authority.