Although a work of fiction, “A Common Glory” is based on fact and makes good use of historic photographs, as it weaves a charming but sometimes tragic Southern love story during World War II.
George Westcott is a Royal Air Force pilot instructor, training RAF cadets at the U.S. Army Air Corps’ Cochran Field in Georgia. Doreen Summers is a newspaper reporter. Both of these characters, and most others in the book, are composites of real people, according to author Robert Middlemiss.
A boy in London during the Blitz, Middlemiss lived in Georgia for many years as an adult. There he became familiar with – and fascinated by – the stories he heard about men and women who met and, sometimes, married when British pilots were training at Cochran Field.
As the story unfolds, it becomes obvious that Middlemiss did his homework well. The technical flying aspects are accurate, although but a small part of the story; and the people actually talk as people did in the early 1940s, not as they do today, a mistake too often made by modern writers and film producers.
Perhaps thanks to more than three decades living in Georgia and Virginia, Middlemiss also has caught the character of the 1940s South, marred though it was by segregation, but an often-charming and gracious place nonetheless.
“A Common Glory” is a very readable story and, unmistakably, a tribute to men and women whom Middlemiss has come to admire. In an era when we are dealing with yet another war and its inevitable losses, the book’s readers will come to admire them, too.
“A Common Glory,” by Robert Middlemiss; Durban House, Dallas; 312 pages, photographs; paperback, $12.95, available at most book stores.
— By Thomas F. Norton