In the final volume of a comic trilogy about British pilots in WW I, Major Bandy returns to the front for his third tour of duty, now as the bumbling commanding officer of a flight squadron. He's only 23, but a very old 23 -- and when finally demobbed in Canada at war's end, he's a 26-year-old general. For all his introverted mishandling of everything he touches or does, he emerges as a lovable fool and hero with a smart eye for striking detail. The tone wavers between larky nonsense (coal piles that are painted white) and a finer-textured realism, as if a squadron of beleaguered pilots facing the Hun is too serious a subject to spend entirely on slapstick. At one moment we are investigating an officer's singleseat outhouse fitted with royally lavish decor, a complete set of Balzac and a polished brass lamp, and at the next, we drop to earth to study a lieutenant with a ravaged face and ferociously twisted lips ""damaged by shrapnel, and improperly repaired."" We follow Bandy through his rise as a battle ace, his famous philandering with a general's wife, his rescue of his squadron from the mad discipline of his second-in-command, his first parachute jumps (drunk), his first leave and dental work in Paris, getting shot down and stealing a German plane, his wife's death in the flu epidemic, his adventures in Russia as an aviation adviser following the Revolution, and much more. He's an ingratiating fellow and his tales have authenticity and heart.