The Extraordinary Life and Times of Captain G. W. Mapplebeck, by Peter Mapplebeck
Gilbert Mapplebeck was one of the first Royal Flying Corps pilots to fly to the continent at the very start of the First World War and was the first British aviator to fly a reconnaissance over enemy territory. His life reads like something out of an adventure book: his determination to become a pilot; his posting to France in 1914; his involvement in the first night time bombing raid of World War 1; being shot down over enemy territory and his amazing escape back to England; and his tragic death in a flying accident just one year later. But his story has always been incomplete until two significant diaries written by Gilbert (Gib) came to light. In the first he tells us of his time in the RFC between July 1914 and February 1915, affording us a unique insight into the very early days of winged combat. In the second diary, which was written after the event, Gib tells the story of the ill-fated “sortie” over Lille, where he was shot down, escaped from German troops, was protected by a number of Belgians and then finally made it back to England. The book, written by Gilbert’s nephew Peter, tells his story brilliantly.