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Wings (1977/78) – #6 – S01 E06 – June 1915: “Over The Top” – Tim Woodward, Nicholas Jones, Michael Cochrane, David Troughton


This Episode

June 1915: With hot weather and a break in the bombardment, Alan goes swimming and Morgan experiments with fitting bombs with parachutes. The RFC are summoned to assist in a new initiative, and Gaylion gets a taste of the horrors of life in the trenches when his plane is forced down and he must wait overnight for the arrival of a replacement propellor. He observes the demoralising effect of trench warfare on an infantry battalion and on their commander, Captain Carey. Alan convinces Triggers to allow him to transport the spare propellor on the Avro. Triggers brings Gaylion back to base while Alan fits the replacement propellor and, with Carey’s help, takes off in Gaylion’s plane; as he is leaving, he sees Carey killed by shell fire. On return to base, he finds that Corporal Morgan has been killed by one of his own bombs. Triggers and Alan both blame themselves for Morgan’s death. Remorse, and the thought of Morgan’s family, lead Alan to write to Lorna, breaking off their engagement. Alan and Charles visit a brothel where they become very drunk and start a fight. Triggers receives a complaint from the authorities, but protects the men’s identities to save them from punishment. The next day, Alan flies with Bravington and is hit and wounded in the leg by their “favourite Hun” – the German plane equipped with a machine gun.


Wings is a drama series about the Royal Flying Corps that ran on BBC television from 1977 to 1978. It stars Tim Woodward as Alan Farmer, a young blacksmith turned fighter pilot in World War I.

Nicholas Jones played his teacher and mentor, Captain Triggers, and Michael Cochrane played his upper-class friend, Charles Gaylion, who began a relationship with Farmer’s girlfriend while Farmer was believed dead, shot down over France.

The series reveals that the British pilots are struggling with aeroplanes which are both unreliable and inferior to the German machines, and with an Establishment that classes voicing an opinion to that effect as being tantamount to cowardice. The airmen must also face the resentment of British soldiers who see them having an “easy” life. The rigidity of the British class structure is highlighted when Farmer becomes an officer in the second series – he faces resentment both from some officers because of his class and NCOs because of his new rank. The series takes great care with historical accuracy, covering the early days of the parachute, the fitting of weaponry to British biplanes (lacking the Germans’ interruptor gear, they had to be fired at an angle rather than through the propellers) and the horrors of trench warfare. Wings depicts a Britain that is, in some areas, struggling to adapt in the face of change, at a period that was a turning point for many people’s way of life MORE AT LINK

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