An Airman's Wife
A True Story of Lovers Seperated by War (Hardcover)
by Aimée McHardy
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Grub Street (July 19, 2005)
"Aimee McHardy and William Arthur Bond lived a bittersweet story of love, separation, and grief—an all too common tale among the millions who suffered heart-wrenching loss in the Great War. This heartfelt volume, first published in 1918, offers WW I historians a twofold look at the conflict, via the husband’s letters from France and his wife’s journal entries at home.
Bill and Aimee were no starry-eyed youngsters; both were in their 30s. Bond was a decorated infantryman when he transferred to the RFC in 1917. He joined No. 40 Squadron flying Nieuports and earned a sterling reputation, variously credited with five to seven victories. His letters (expertly edited by Barry Marsden) provide an intimate look at life in a combat squadron populated with the likes of Edward Mannock, among others.
Aimee comes across as a free spirit, having traveled widely and lived in Paris and St. Moritz before the war. It’s evident that she and Bill thoroughly enjoyed one another, having cohabited before they married in 1917.
Informed that Bill was MIA (likely killed by flak), Aimee’s journal contains the hopes and emotions known to millions of people whose loved ones went to war. Soaring hope, choking fear, and finally inevitable acceptance alternately crowd her journal. In that respect, An Airman’s Wife speaks for a generation of women who sustained irretrievable loss.
Sadly, Aimee’ disappeared from public view after the war. Her later life remains a mystery, but her book remains testament to the fact that she and her airman shared a rare form of love.
Reviewed by Barrett Tillman