Fighter Boy

By John Willis

Geoffrey Page was one of the most remarkable fighter pilots of World War Two. Shot down in a fireball during the Battle of Britain his hands were burnt to the bone and his face badly charred. Despite his horrific injuries Page went onto fly at D-Day, the Battle of Normandy, and Arnhem. On appointment in 1944 he was the youngest Wing Commander in the RAF, aged 24.

During two years in hospital under the care of the legendary pioneering surgeon Archibald McIndoe he endured fifteen painful operations. Through Geoffrey’s eyes we understand exactly why McIndoe was such a brilliant ground breaker. Page vowed to shoot down a German aircraft as revenge for every one of his operations and hit his target, but it left him feeling hollow, ‘I had a kind of bloodlust. But when I shot down as many German planes as I had operations on my hands and face, I was just left with an empty feeling.’

Using unpublished material from extensive family archives, this compelling book tells the unvarnished story of his extraordinary life. His terrible crash and dramatic rescue. His founder membership of the famous Guinea Pig Club. His low-level fighter raids over France. His leadership on D- Day and in Normandy and finally his second horrific crash at Arnhem. The dramatic moments in his extraordinary life and the complexity of his character are explored with humour and humanity, candidly examining Page’s difficulties in post war life with at least fifteen further operations to endure in a lifetime of pain.

Through all this, Page’s resilience, and courage shine through, culminating in his inspirational vision for the Battle of Britain Memorial in Kent. So unquenchable was his spirit it was no wonder that at his Memorial Service it was said, ‘Even in the context of the Battle of Britain he was the bravest of the brave.’

About John Willis

John Willis is one of Britain’s best known television executives. He is a former Director of Programmes at Channel 4 and Director of Factual and Learning at the BBC. He was Vice-president of National Programs at WGBH Boston. In 2012 he was elected as Chair of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).He was educated at Eltham College and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge where he read history. He started his career as a documentary maker and won a string of awards for his films, including Johnny Go Home, Alice – A Fight For Life, Rampton: The Secret Hospital, and First Tuesday: Return To Nagasaki.He was Chief Executive of Mentorn Media – producer of Question Time for the BBC – and he now chairs the Board of Governors at the Royal Central School for Speech and Drama. He divides his time between London and Norfolk.

Visit John’s website here.

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