“Never in Anger”

Never in Anger
By: Anthony “Bugs” Bendell
Orion Books Ltd. (1999)

The title of this book works in two ways as it reflects that the author never fired a shot in anger during a 30+ year career in fast jets and also his positive outlook and lack of bitterness when he was grounded permanently by multiple sclerosis.

Bendell gives a good overview of all his RAF flying from Tiger Moths at basic training to Harvards and T-33s in advanced training in Canada and works his way through Hunters, Lightnings, commanding a Phantom squadron in the RAF and an exchange tour in the USAF where he was an instructor on the F-105 Thunderchief.

Accounts he gives of off duty life are refreshingly light on skirt chasing escapades and alcohol induced amnesia. The book is written with a good deal of humility and humanity.

The book is quite moving in the period where he must adjust to his wings being permanent clipped due to MS and the condition ultimately ending his RAF career a few years later. It’s also moving as he talks about the friends he made and lost in the business of fast jet flying, particulalrly the USAF F-105 pilots he worked with and trained who subsequently were sent to Vietnam and did not survive the experience.