THE TWO BOOKS W.E. JOHNS SIGNED TO GEOFFREY DORMAN
I bought “Short Sorties” and “Biggles in the Blue” together as a pair, via eBay, from the Aviation Bookshop in Tunbridge Wells.
In “Short Sorties” Johns has signed “To Geoffrey Dorman from Bill Johns – with warmest regards”. Johns was known as “Bill” to his friends.
In “Biggles in the Blue” Johns has signed “With happy memories, one old timer to another – To Geoff from the author July 1954 W. E. Johns”
In this book, Johns has even taken the time to add a little sketch of a bi-plane flying through clouds.
So who was Geoffrey Dorman?
Geoffrey Charles Herbert Dorman (July 7th, 1894 - 1968) was born in London. A Second Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, he gained his "ticket" at the Military School (Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, England) on 2nd June 1915, on a Maurice Farman Biplane.
On 16th November 1916, Lieutenant Geoffrey Dorman took off from Shoreham in a Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b with the intention of heading West along the South Coast to the airfield at Gosport (Hampshire, England). Not long into the flight, however, a dense sea fog formed and as his engine was also "misbehaving", Lieutenant Dorman decided "it would be best to try and land". Spotting a suitable area of farmland, He put his aircraft down near the West Sussex village of Tangmere.
Evidently aware of what he had stumbled across, his subsequent report on the incident included a suggestion that the site would be eminently suitable for an aerodrome. Within twelve months, construction had started - and so was born the legend of R.A.F. Tangmere.
Geoffrey Dorman became a well-known writer specialising in aviation. His publications include: Fifty years Fly Past (1951) and Shattering Silence (1955). Fifty Years Fly Past is basically a review of the first fifty years of aviation. The book is most interesting because Geoffrey Dorman was intimately involved and had met many of the people he wrote about.
There is a brief write up about the author on the back of the first edition of Fifty Years Fly Past as can be seen below. Note his claim to fame of being spanked by Wilbur Wright!
Wilbur Wright was one of the two Wright brothers, who were effectively, the fathers of aviation. Wilbur died in 1912, whereas his brother, Orville Wright, died in 1948 and lived to see the huge advances made in aviation in that first half-century. (You can read more about the Wright brothers here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_brothers)
SHORT SORTIES (1950)
BIGGLES AND IN THE BLUE