The Soldier, in 1966, was the first in the series to be issued in the matt cover, dust-jacket-less format. Written by I & J Havenhand, illustrated by Berry, it is, as you might expect, full of tanks, guns, rockets and other exciting bits of machinery. Todayâs high technology is not much in evidence; "all regiments of the army have radios in case the telephone wires get broken". The engineers have an especially exciting job; "radios, watches, telphones, rockets, tanks and helicopters are among the many things that the soldiers mend in their workshops". However, nowhere in the book does it mention that the ultimate job of the fighting soldier is to kill people...
Following the Soldier, the Sailor and Airman followed in 1967, using the same editorial team. Barryâs technical expertise shines out of the illustrations of ships and he can be perhaps forgiven for the cheesy grin on the face of the rating who is dashing up the stairs on the cover shot. On page 51 there is a great shot of a sailor falling out of his hammock.
The Airman (in the Royal Air Force) was, like the other two, quite a "person centred" depiction, written as a recruiting advert. Everyone is skilled, everyone gets on with their fellow officers and you get to ride in exciting new jets,
I've just dug mine out to have a look at it and check the date. 1966... I got it when I was about five and it was one of a small box of 'things' my mum had kept over the years and she found in the loft a couple of years back (along with some rather sad and embarrassing school reports....amazing I've come as far as I have really........)