The Reluctant Warrior: Vivid Historical Novel, Set in WWII, Sends Airman to Fight for Love on Battlefield of Emotions

Meticulously researched by Barry Rickson, ‘The Reluctant Warrior: An American Airman’s Story’ fuses fact and fiction as one young American leaves his German love behind to join an Air Force that will ultimately fight against her. Taking readers from deep into historically-accurate details of an American serving his Air Force in the United Kingdom, to his refusal to surrender in the battle to see his soul mate, readers will see a side of WWII that rarely makes it into a novel.

As a retired Head of Department English teacher, Barry Rickson knows that a good story isn’t one hastily thrown together. In his debut work of fiction, Rickson has painstakingly crafted a historical novel that will not only tug at the heart-strings, but take readers into the human side of WWII with raw emotion and accuracy.
‘The Reluctant Warrior: An American Airman’s Story’ is what the author coins “faction” (fact and fiction). It’s so true to life that it’s garnering praise from those who actually served during the time the story is set.

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It is January 1939, and Frank Eberhardt, a young, good-looking university student from Pennsylvania, has taken his father’s advice to have a year off from his studies to undertake work experience at the giant German chemical plant of IG Farben in Bremen. There, he falls in love with Helga, an 18 yr-old law student.

The outbreak of war in 1939 causes him to return home before he somewhat reluctantly joins the American Air Force training to become a navigator on the Flying Fortress, or B-17. He is then sent to Norfolk from where he takes part in many historic raids over Germany.

There are vivid descriptions of these, the disasters suffered and consequent effect on the men’s morale. He struggles between duty and conscience. The life in the Norfolk countryside and relationships with local people is emphasised.

He is decorated for bravery, before becoming a major at the USAAF Headquarters at High Wycombe where he takes part in planning strategy. From here he manages to achieve a transfer to Bremen at the end of hostilities.

There are many amorous adventures, but will he manage to see Helga again?

“As a kid I met many members of the United States Army Air Force; they were always so generous and warm. To me they were warriors and heroes but, as an adult, I can now look back and see that each of them had a compelling personal story to tell. This book attempts to tell one man’s story of a life suddenly put on hold,” explains Rickson.

Continuing, “My goal from the outset was to write something that was both cinematic and historically accurate. Initial feedback has been fantastic, which provides a real lift to someone dabbling with their first book of fiction!”

In fact, readers have come out in abundance to leave positive reviews. James Maloney gave it 5 stars adding “My father was an American Airman during WW2. He was based in England initially but completed a lot of missions over Europe. Although he rarely spoke of his experiences, this book brought me closer to understanding the role he played, the relationships he forged and the emotional attachments he must have made. This book, in a strange, but comforting way, brought my father back to me. It has been a lovely and moving experience. Whether you have an interest in WW2 aircraft, a relative or family member who is, or was, a flyer or just enjoy a good read…this book is for you. Thanks, Barry, for bringing my Dad back to life!”

David Sleight comments, “I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As one would expect of a book by a retired Head of Department English teacher, it is very well written. But it is much more than that: it is a delightful, whimsical tale of love lost and found, and very evocative of its period and setting.”

David Miler adds, “As a first novel it had humour, pathos and excitement. What more can you say. I hope that he will write yet more.”

The Reluctant Warrior: An American Airman’s Story’ is available now:

About the author, in his own words:

BARRY RICKSON is a retired Head of Department English teacher, graduate of Manchester University. He has had books and articles published on cricket, but this is first attempt at writing fiction for a wider audience – or should it be “Faction”?

He has been fascinated with the United States Army Air Force and still has vivid memories of meeting several of their number as a boy at junior school towards the end of the Second World War. Their friendliness and generosity remain firmly in his mind.

Outside Modern History and English, his greatest interests are cricket as a Life Member of Lancashire County Cricket Club and soccer where he has a season ticket at Manchester United.

He is married to Jennifer with whom he has three sons, the families of whom are scattered round the globe.

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