"Roald Dahl: Goin Solo" Book Summary

Going Solo is a memoir by Roald Dahl, first published by Jonathan Cape in London in 1986. It is a continuation of his autobiography describing his childhood, Boy. It tells about his voyage to Africa, describing the various strange people he meets. He was on a boat heading towards Dar es Salaam for his new job working for Shell Oil. He eventually joined the war as a squadron pilot in the Royal Air Force, flying the Tiger Moth, Gloster Gladiator, and Hawker Hurricane. He was one of the last Allied pilots to withdraw from Greece during the German invasion. After Greece fell to the Nazis, he went to the Middle East to fight Vichy French pilots after staying for a brief time in Alexandria, Egypt.

Background

The book is set in the time of Queen Victoria, when the British public are fascinated with East Africa and colonise there. The Royal Dutch Shell Company, which Roald works for, was formed when two moderately successful but fragile businesses merged together in 1907 to result in the Shell Multinational Petroleum Company. Wherever there was a need for Kerosene, Petrol and Oil, Shell successfully expanded there. When Shell expanded to Africa they only had a few young men taking care of a vast territory within East Africa.

The Shell Company was the main company that successfully kept the equipment maintained and running in the up-country mines and plantations. The Germans got to Africa before the British and took a lot of the land, when the British arrived in Africa they didn’t expect the Germans to be there before them and take most of the land. The British took all the land they could get and Shell took place in the British territory.

Roald Dahl in Tanganyika In the book Roald explains he had been on a ship to Tanganyika when one morning he saw Mr. and Mrs. Major Griffiths running up and down on the deck of the ship, this shows that Roald Dahl always finds the funny side in everything. In “Dar es Salaam” he stays for 2 months. Once he was shaving himself in his bathroom, when he saw a black mamba gliding to Salimu from his bathroom window. He shouts to Salimu warning him about the snake. Salimu gets his rake and hits the mamba on the middle of his back.

About a month after the black mamba incident, there’s a new danger: a lion. The lion had grabbed the cooks’ wife and was starting to run towards the forest. Robert Sanford, the DO (District Officer) gets his rifle, and shoots at the huge lion but the bullet misses. The shot was enough to make the lion turn around and see what was happening, it saw that there were many people after it and it dropped the cook’s wife. Fortunately the cook wife isn’t hurt.

One Sunday evening a month after the lion attack Roald was invited to go and have a sundowner (A drink before dinner) at the house of an Englishman called Fuller who worked in the Customer Office in Dar es Salaam. He lived with his wife and two little children in a plain white house. Roald walks through the grass towards Mr. Fuller’s house when he sees a green mamba gliding through the grass, right to the door of Mr.

Fuller’s house. He shouted to Mr. and Mr. Fuller through a window. Mr. Fuller lowered his kids and his wife out of the window upstairs, and then Mr. Fuller climbs out of the window. When everyone got down safely Mr. Fuller goes to the snake-man. The snake-man arrived and goes inside and gets the mamba. Nobody is hurt accept Jack, the dog, he’s bitten by the snake and he didn’t survive. Flying in WW2

When the war was announced Roald was in the forest with a squadron of people waiting for the call saying that the war has started, they were sleeping when the call came. Roald was in charge of the squadron; his job was to stop the Germans who will try to run out of the country. Roald had to kill one man who was threatening him, the man was the leader of a convoy of vans and jeeps. The man was shot in the face in front of Roald. When Roald came home from stopping the Germans who were trying to run, he notices that his huge sword was missing and noticed Mdisho wasn’t in the house. At this time Roald became concerned of the whereabouts of Mdisho. Roald was awoken a noise caused by one of the windows opening, he looked towards the window and saw Mdisho climbing through it.

Roald noticed that Mdisho had his missing sword in his hand which had dried blood on it, Roald asked Mdisho what happen and Mdisho told Roald his story. In November 1939, Roald had to take flying training in Nairobi, he was told he couldn’t fly because he was too tall. Later Roald was to fly to a place to join the 80 squadron, he went to where the coordination’s were leading him but there was nothing in the area but dessert. He crashed because he did not have enough fuel to fly back to the landing strip, he tried to land his plane on the sand but failed. It turns out that he was given the wrong coordination’s. He was supposed to go the opposite way in which he was traveling.

When people came to check out the crash site they found him alive and they sent him to a hospital in Alexandria, This is where he recovered from having brain damage and temporary blindness caused by the plane crash. He was released from the hospital after he could see again and after he recovered from his brain damage. He had to fly to Greece in a Hurricane when he was released, and he had to fly non-stop to Greece. When Roald was at the base in Greece, he could hear planes approaching the base and recognised the planes as being Me109s and they were aiming for it for the base. Roald was standing quite naked beside the basin outside when he spotted the planes.

The planes were shooting at the Hurricanes so they could disable them in order not to be utilised. Roald’s Hurricane was still intact. On another day he was about to shoot down a plane, that he thought was a German plane, he got close enough to see it wasn’t it was a German plane but a plane with an RAF marking on it, fortunately he didn’t shoot. When their base is destroyed by a barricade of bullets by the Germans, everyone was transported out to a field and Roald said he would drive his car to Haifa where the rest of his squadron was heading by plane. After three years in the war he now was 25 years old, and was able to see his family again.

Conclusion

Going Solo is an interesting and exciting book. The book tells the readers about Roald Dahl’s life story about how he became a fighter pilot in WW2. Roald always shows the funny side of everything in his writing, he used great descriptive words within this book, showing his great imagination. He describes his fights in the air with details that make you believe that you are right next to him in the plane. This book is another great book written by Roald Dahl, added to the famous collection of Roald Dahl’s books. Even though he has passed away, we will always remember him by his books.