Geoffrey Wellum was just 18 when he joined
the No. 92 Squadron of the RAF and was taught to fly a Spitfire just
weeks before the Battle of Britain, the 1940 aerial war with the Nazis
which would eventually claim the lives of more than 800 British pilots.
This ‘dramatic documentary,’ commissioned
as part of the BBC’s commemoration of the Battle’s 70th
anniversary, sees relatively unknown Scottish theatre and television
actor Sam Heughan starring as the fresh-faced Wellum, whose nickname
amongst his comparatively wizened pilot brethren was, predictably
enough, ‘Boy.’ The film charts Wellum’s astonishingly rapid progression
from schoolboy to fighter pilot, capturing all the trepidation of his
early enlistment and neatly encapsulating the terrifying drama of his
first airborne tussles with the fearsome Luftwaffe.
This filmic adaptation of Wellum’s daring
exploits is based on his 2003 memoir of the same name (actually the
book’s full title was First Light: The Story of a Boy Who Became a
Man in the War-Torn Skies Above Britain). It’s narrated by Wellum
himself and is a fitting and entertaining tribute to a young man who,
like so many of his peers, risked his own life to protect those of his
The feature itself is brief at 78 minutes
and the disc contains no bonus content to speak of – an interview or two
with Wellum wouldn’t have gone astray – but the story itself is a lively
and engaging one and fans of all things WWII will find much to recommend
this heady blend of drama and documentary.