The lives of airmen during the first world war were notoriously short.
On average, they could expect to live for an average of 10-15 days after deployment.
It goes without saying that written materials connected to these astonishingly brave pilots is highly scarce.
However, on January 27 Henry Aldridge Auctioneers will offer an archive of four letters written by Lt. Edgar Taylor of the Royal Air Force (RAF).
The first is dated April 14, 1918. The last, just a couple of days before his death on August 24, 1918. You’ll notice that Taylor had a pretty good run of it, by first world war standards.
In one of the letters, dated June 14, Taylor gives a nightmarish account of a recent experience when he was hit by an enemy plane – which he takes very much in his stride: “The Hun Archies saw I was crippled and tried to finish me off however they did not hit me.
“I landed near the line and was obliged to stay there until my mechanics came. It was an all nighter with the shelling and star shells.
“It was all rather interesting. The next machine I took up, the engine failed me in a scrap.
“When I started for home a petrol pipe burst, it was a wonder it didn’t catch fire.
“I was covered in petrol and I was unable to find a place to land, I crashed into a hedge wrecking my machine completely. Beyond a few bruises I wasn’t hurt. It is a dead day today so I’m having a much-needed rest.’
The archive is valued at £3,000-5,000 ($4,289-7,149).