They Flew Through Sand

They Flew Through Sand

The Notes and Sketches of a RAF Officer in the Western Desert

George W Houghton

ISBN10 0951607812
ISBN13 9780951607817

286 Pages

Black & White Illustrations


George Houghton’s younger life was always a hotchpotch, but it bred a sense of humour that found an outlet in golf cartoons and fun writing. War came and he joined the Royal Air Force. Being bi-lingual the intention was a posting to the French Resistance as an Intelligence Officer, but France fell and George went to the Middle-East as a press officer. His Western Desert diaries and sketchbooks were published in Cairo, 1942. “They Flew through Sand” sold phenomenally well. George said because a million service personnel had nothing else to read! Nearly fifty years later (in 1991) the book was re-issued in London by Sean Arnold.

The book captures the conditions endured by those who operated in the Western Desert remarkably well. It describes events across the Theatre, but Chapter 11 ‘Army Co-op’ concentrates on 208 Squadron in particular, and begins with the following wonderful paragraph:

“If I were fifteen years younger, could make the grade, and had the choice, I should choose to be a pilot in 208 Squadron. They are real desert flyers and have, excepting for a spell in Greece, always been the spearhead of the air Force in the Western Desert. Usually operating at least 50 miles in advance of any other squadron, it does tactical reconnaissance flights for the ground forces. It is an Army Co-operation Squadron.”

“…… Later, other Army Co-op squadrons came to the desert to help them out with the work, but 208 carried the brunt. They always fly alone, and disregard danger until the task is completed.”

‘They Flew Through Sand’ is a warm, easy and absorbing read, and is a ‘must have’ for anyone interested in the Desert Air Campaign.

First Published by

R Schindler

41 Madabegh Street, Cairo

June 1942

Second Publishing

Sean Arnold

31 May 1991