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Strong to Serve

An Australian Spitfire Pilot's war over Europe

Published by Big Sky Publishing
Distributed by Simon & Schuster
LIST PRICE $9.74
PRICE MAY VARY BY RETAILER

Following training in Australia, Canada and the UK, Fred Riley flew Spitfires with No 130 (Punjab) Squadron RAF from October 1943 until December 1944. Flying the Spitfire Mk.V, he escorted bombers, flew fighter sweeps, and undertook hazardous patrols on D-Day. 

With a new Spitfire Mk.XIV, Fred intercepted V-1 flying bombs aimed at London. Later, from the Netherlands and Belgium, he conducted anti jet and low-level sorties over those countries and into Germany. During one such flight, Fred and his colleagues were surprised by a superior force of Luftwaffe fighters.

Fred’s logbook records historically significant names, places and events. He served with notable aces, escorted General Eisenhower, and protected transport aircraft during Operation Market Garden. The logbook ends on 22 December 1944 – Fred was shot down and severely injured while supporting beleaguered American forces. 

However, it is Fred’s memories of instructors, fellow trainees, and the pilots he flew with that are most enlightening. This account details Fred’s journey to becoming a fighter pilot and his remarkable recollections of combat over the UK and Europe. It also highlights the courage, achievements and sacrifices of the men of 130 Squadron – a multi-national group of pilots who lived up to their motto: ‘Strong to Serve’.

Joseph Mack is a current serving member of the Royal Australian Air Force. He is a graduate of the Australian Defence Force Academy and holds a Master of War Studies from the University of New South Wales. Joseph has a longstanding interest in military aviation history and the Second World War. 

Joseph and Fred Riley met several years ago when the former Spitfire pilot visited the author’s squadron in Adelaide with his daughter Kaye. Since that first meeting, the two have become firm friends.