THE RAGGED TROUSERED AIRMAN by Jack Davidson
Jack Davidson’s account of his years in the RAF during World War II is told with an honest
approach that also reflects his great sense of irony.
Coming from a working class area he joined the RAF on 19th July 1940, aged 18,
specifically because he thought he would otherwise have been conscripted into
the army where he considered that there was more chance of being shot.
In this he was proved to be wrong, for after his primary training he was
instructed to be a machine-gunner and put on
anti-aircraft gun posts at 12 Group Fighter Command during the Battle of
Following this he retrained as a ground observer, thinking that he would be
safely tucked away waiting for German aeroplanes coming to bomb Great Britain.
Here he was wrong again, as he was sent overseas and ended up travelling and
observing across twelve countries including Africa, India, Iraq, Kuwait, Iran,
Russia and Egypt. He was in Tunisia with the victorious eighth army observing
for the RAF and the Royal Artillery.
Recounted in a candid narrative, this author does not pull his punches. His
travels, active service and sexual activities are laid bare before us but,
directly because of this straightforwardness, there are also moments of extreme
The author left school at 14. He was apprenticed to a decorative artist until
the age of 18, at which time he joined the RAF.
Following his time in the services he worked as a decorative artist, eventually
becoming a signwriter for a brewery. He was finally a technician in art and
design at Bradford Art College.
It was when visiting Tunisia on a scheme called ‘Heroes Return’ that he became inspired to write this autobiography of his wartime experiences.