The American Pilot Who Went Missing
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These are the bare bones of the story. But was that landing in Africa 'an inexplicable defection', as it has been described? Here is the evidence, alongside an exploration of American and British attitudes to men like Walcott who served under foreign flags. Walcott's story has been discussed for many years, but here is the truth. Did the Spitfire's undercarriage fail to retract, as Walcott claimed, or did he lose his nerve? Does the fact that Walcott later gained a reputation as a risk-taker indicate a 'Lord Jim' narrative, whereby he tried to make up for a moment of cowardice? Walcott's ultimately tragic tale is set against the larger narrative of Irish/American and British/Vichy France relations, of the Mediterranean theatre, aircraft design, and the US entry into the war.