MR HITLER MISSED ME: A FORMER FLEET AIR ARM OFFICER’S TALE OF LAUGHTER, THE SEA, DEATH AND SHOWBUSINESS

Reviewed by: DR JAMES BOSBOTINIS

Mr Hitler Missed Me was something of a departure for this reviewer, my typical reading being focused on contemporary strategy or geopolitics. However, the sub-title of the book, referring to a “former Fleet Air Arm officer” provoked interest, as did the back cover image of the author in his Sea Hawk. David Gunn frames his autobiography as a “tale of laughter, the sea, death and showbusiness”, and this is certainly reflected throughout the book. Across 10 chapters, Gunn reflects on his childhood, including growing up in Plymouth during the Blitz, his entry to and career in the Royal Navy, and transition to a post-naval career, which included success as an author and on television.

Gunn’s reflections on his time at Dartmouth and career in the Royal Navy will very much be of interest to members of the NR, whether those more mature members who will have similar reflections or, as with this reviewer, younger members who can observe how society has evolved since the 1940s and 1950s. Gunn writes in a very approachable, conversational manner, and from the start, there are amusing anecdotes, including how his father and then fiancé visited his grandfather in hospital, and various naval dits. One that particularly stood out for this reviewer was on page 115, where Gunn recounts the navigational challenges he encountered during a major naval exercise in the late 1950s.

Mr Hitler Missed Me provides a most enjoyable read that will greatly appeal to a wide audience, whether one is interested in the post-war Royal Navy, learning to fly a jet from an aircraft carrier, or the broader social commentary arising from the author’s reflections on life from the 1940s to today. There are a few occasional typos, but they do not detract from the quality of this book. I would certainly recommend Mr Hitler Missed Me; at 164 pages, it is a short, but enjoyable and though-provoking read. In this regard, Gunn concludes with a question that will provoke much thought.