Bill Lambert: World War I Flying Ace
Published by McFarland & Company on August 12, 2016
American born Lambert apparently went to Canada in late 1915 and tried to enlist, but instead became a chemist making explosives in a factory. Before the U.S. declared war, Lambert sought to join the British Royal Flying Corps that was recruiting in Toronto. He was accepted in June 1917 and received only four rather than the standard six to eight weeks of basic training. Wilson speculates that it was shortened due to the heavy losses suffered by the RFC during “Bloody April” of 1917. Surprisingly, he was sent home to Ohio for a brief visit before being sent overseas.
Lambert flew old Avros and the single-seat Sopwith Pup (“one of the nicest machines that any pilot could want”). He disliked the Sopwith Camel, and enjoyed the SPAD although “it would fall like a brick.” Lambert scored his 22 aerial kills flying the S.E.5a in No. 24 Squadron starting in March 1918. A nervous breakdown in August ended his WW1 career.
Wilson’s book is well written, entertaining, and covers Lambert’s post-WW1 experiences without ignoring his caustic personality.
Reviewed by Dana Lombardy, publisher of WWOI