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Book Review - Flight Lieutenant Thomas 'Tommy' Rose DFC by Sarah Chambers

What’s it about?

Flight Lieutenant Thomas ‘Tommy’ Rose, a First World War fighter ace, was a pioneer of private flying. He installed & managed the UK’s first fuel pump for private aviation at Brooklands before becoming Sales Manager for Phillips & Powis Aircraft Ltd. The chief flying instructor at several early flying schools, Tommy became the Chief Test Pilot for Miles Aircraft & was the winner of air races & pageants. He was undoubtedly a pilot who could always be relied on to amaze the onlookers with his fast, accurate stunts and low-level flying.

Mentioned in Despatches in 1916 & awarded the DFC in 1918, Tommy was attacked in his aircraft several times, yet his astonishing ability at the controls of his aircraft enabled him to land without serious injury. By the time of the Armistice, Tommy had been credited with eleven ‘kills’.

He continued to demonstrate these skills after the war and though this true trailblazer was widely known in his glory days during the early part of the twentieth century, little is remembered about him today. Yet Tommy Rose achieved the most incredible feats of aviation & was considered one of the finest pilots of his era, completing over 11,200 flying hours up to 1949.

In the 1930s, Tommy took the Imperial Airways route through East Africa, to set up a new world record on the UK to Cape Town passage, beating Amy Mollison (Johnson) who took the shorter course down the west coast. He also won the King's Cup Air Race in 1935.Tommy flew many of the early RAF fighters from Maurice Farman to the Spitfire Mk.IX, and, from late 1939, when he was appointed Chief Test Pilot for Phillip & Powis Aircraft Ltd at Woodley (forerunners of Miles Aircraft Ltd), he test flew all Miles monoplane training & target towing aircraft, leaving in January 1946. His last position was as General Manager of Universal Flying Services Ltd at Fairoaks Aerodrome in Surrey.The result of decades of research by the author, through this book the life and adventures of one of history’s most accomplished & daring aviators can finally be told.


Our Review


I can totally relate to Sarah Chambers Story, as a Genealogist I weirdly find funerals very interesting, they often spark conversation & reminiscences & you just never know what family story might crop up.  This was one such case when Sarah would discover her family connection to Tommy Rose which would set her out on over a decades long research journey to find out more about his life & career.

I can only imagine her delight as she trawled through the source documents, newspapers & magazines pieced things together.   

What a career it was too from test pilot to record breaker, World War 1 flying ace & stunt pilot.  Aviation was definitely in his blood & was something that he would continue to do up until the 1940s.

This 315-page book is really well written & I love how the author has included excerpts as well as images of some of the sources she has come across in her research. 

I would not hesitate to recommend this book everyone should learn more about Flight Lieutenant Tommy Rose DFC & his passion for Aviation!

You can purchase the book from Pen & Sword books via the following link 


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