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An Airman's Odyssey

by the late Wing Commander A 0 E (Butch) Pugh

Self-published and obtainable from the author's estate: 1/50 Taharoto Road, Takapuna, Auckland. Reviewed August 2002.

Reviewed by Geoffrey Bentley

Butch Pugh loved the Air Force in which he served for more than 30 years. Its varied lifestyle with a strong accent on the social side suited his temperament and his outgoing personality - and he accepted every extension of service that he was offered. Nevertheless, he often found aspects of which he was critical.

He entered the RNZAF in 1939 as a wireless operator/air gunner, serving with No 75 (New Zealand) Squadron in RAF Bomber Command and then did a similar stint with Coastal Command. This period of his career - the flying side - he covered in his first book, A Fistful of Sparks. This second book concerns his life in the RNZAF as a signals officer within the Technical Branch and inevitably the account of those years is much less exciting.

The title, An Airman's Odyssey, warns the reader to maintain a sense of perspective. This is not a book about the RNZAF. It is one man's account of his working years in the Technical Branch. This has to limit its appeal. Those who knew Butch Pugh and his contemporaries will find it interesting: it is unlikely to satisfy the casual reader.

It is a slim volume - 105 pages including the index. Much of it concerns family events, driving on a fog-bound road in England, family holidays and illnesses and time spent with friends, but former servicemen will find some material within its pages that is of interest.

Butch Pugh - few would know him as Alfred George Edward - was one of the characters of the postwar RNZAF. Ebullient and assertive, he was always good company and he was an excellent raconteur. Officers' Mess parties owed much to his presence. Sadly, his second book does not reflect these qualities.



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