View Full Version : Douglas Gilbert - Trifle in the Sky

23rd Nov 2006, 17:59
Does anyone know of this pilot or his book? The book is fascinating and a great addition to the WW2 airmen's oeuvre but it appears to be something of a one-off. I can't remember how I acquired the book, but the the publisher is Flibinite Publications, and there is no ISBN or publisher's details at all! :ugh: A Google reveals nothing of author, title or publisher. All I can glean is that Gilbert lived in Kent before and after the war. On the back cover he is shown seated in an Auster at Biggin on his 80th birthday in 1998. Any clues?



23rd Nov 2006, 18:51
A quick search reveals:

On the RNIB website: http://www.rnib.org.uk/xpedio/groups/public/documents/PublicWebsite/public_readmeoct03.hcsp

GILBERT, Douglas: A trifle in the sky. Order No. X11231, 13 or 4 cassettes.
This autobiography is about an ordinary run of the mill Spitfire pilot during World War II.

Or maybe try the Auster Club


29th Feb 2008, 15:51
I knew douglas gilbert quite well, although he died some years ago, he was a frequent visitor to the pilots pal bar ant biggin hill, i understand he flew spifires in malta during the war and lived some time in australia, anymore infor required please e-mail me at [email protected]

3rd Mar 2008, 08:47
As I recall, the title is not a self-effacing comment on aerial combat, but refers to an incident which ocurred one night in the Mess. Noticing that his fellow officers were greedily eyeing his sponge cake, Douglas picked it up and threw it up into an overhead fan - so that they could "all have a bit"!

Malcolm Gilbert
28th Mar 2009, 22:53
Hi Kev

Very pleased you enjoyed the book I can confirm most is true (you have to add a little embroidery! he would say)

Yes the first print run was of 250 copies only, I believe a second short print run, of I was told a hundred copies was printed? The book was without an ISBN No. I had agreed a second small print run and was promised some copies, which I never received!! Still trying to contact flibinite who put the book together?

A colourful character! the book only tells a fraction of his life, he has an amazing photo scrap book which he started during the war and carried it on into the 60's some 200 pages of approx A3 plus size, the covers made from a crashed Oxford! How do I know all this? well I own the scrap book and copyright to the book as I am his son! I assisted my Father in putting the book and in particular the photos together.

I am now semi retired but as a keen Writer and Photographer I have many photos from my Fathers Album which of course are of much interest to many people and instituitions

I would be pleased to assist you in any way.

Kind Regards

Malcolm Gilbert

I have had to contact the Auster Club regarding a copy right infringement which has been acknowledged by them.

29th Apr 2009, 11:09
This message is for malcolm gilbert. If you wish to know who helped put the book together you may call me on 01959 540702, if I am unavailable leave a message with phone number and will get back to you.

29th Apr 2009, 22:43
Malcolm - thank you for your reply, and really nice to hear from you! :ok: Your father sounds a like real character and I would hardly imagine his tales would need any embroidering at all! But it's seriously amazing to put out an enquiry on PPRuNe on a very remote possibilty and have it answered from the horse's mouth (almost) albeit a couple of years later. I'd be delighted to hear more of his anecdotes and to see some of his collection - as I'm sure, would be many other Pruners. Would you be averse to putting them on Prune?


Malcolm Gilbert
4th Aug 2009, 09:01
Hi Kev

Sorry I am late in replying but thanks for your response.

I of course have many anecdotes from my Fathers life! where would I begin? I will of course be happy to help you with any of the many aspects of my Father's life.

I am currently working on my Fathers scrap/photo album, which he started to put together in 1939 some 200 pages each 20in x 15in and covers a period up to 1965 with many amazing photos. I am hoping I can get an article in to Flypast and some Photography magazines etc but is going to take some time.

Thanks for your interest.

Malcolm Gilbert

Malcolm Gilbert
4th Aug 2009, 09:20
Captain cook1

Hi sorry for late response!

I am pretty much aware of who put the book together. I helped my Father over many years with the editing of the book that was eventually printed by Flibinite, the editor of whom I met on several occasions.

I would be pleased to assist you on any other matters/memorabilia concerning my late Father the right honourable Doug Gilbert (For Whom the Bell Tolls) !!

My Tel no is 01797 367552


Malcolm Gilbert

Malcolm Gilbert
18th Sep 2010, 09:34
I have been in touch with the Auster Club regarding copy right infringement of A Trifle in the Sky by Mr Douglas Gilbert.

Mr Douglas Gilbert passed away on the 10th August 2001.

Many thanks to the Auster Club for acknowledging this infringement.

The copy right now belongs to Mr Malcolm Gilbert (Son)

15th Feb 2011, 09:50
Been trying to get a copy of this book for ages.
My late father Sydney Woolterton was a friend of Dougie Gilbert. For a few years we had the album at our house for safekeeping.
I spent hours looking at it. Some funny bits some sad.
Dougie eventually picked up from my dad. Years later I was told at Biggin Hill that it had been destroyed in a fire so now to hear it is intact is great news.

Rob Phillips
10th Apr 2011, 23:15
I knew Dougie quite well .We met at "Joe's Bar". Joseph Merchants wonderful watering hole at Biggin Hill. I moved to Holland in 2002,came back for a visit,the last without knowing what was in store for the South Camp.DEMOLISHED! My daughter Katy used to dance for him.We had many a libation together.I have a copy of the 250 signed to me, " To Robin from Douglas E !! For Whom The Bell Tolls". I also had two of the limited edition prints,signed by Dougie. One signed to me ,"To Robin from Douglas E Gilbert" has been stolen,the second,just signed "Douglas E Gilbert" I still have.If anyone knows of the stolen one ,I would like to know.I also had a collection of aviation signed prints stolen,Russian Mig 29 pilots and ground crew.Johnnie Johnson, GR4 Tornado/Iraq signed by both pilot and navigator.Dam busters,signed by survivors/crew.B of B aircraft signed by pilots.Russian Gold shares,framed,(1898), plus others.

basil faulty
15th Apr 2011, 16:43
I grew up with Dougie, (he was great friends with Mum and Dad) Malcolm, you know me, I am now a trainer for Easy and I live not a million miles away, (Northiam) get in touch, I have just found my copy of his book, fantastic character, your Dad was one of the reasons I became a pilot!! Shame Dad's bar has gone to ground.


22nd Jan 2012, 01:11
Jenny M

Hi Malcolm, you won't know me or my husband but we were very friendly with your father Douglas.He used to come in to our cafe on a regular basis for his lunch.He would tell us loads of stories.He also spoke of you and how a lot of info on his life story was lost in the fire.We have a large framed picture that Doug gave us the same as the one on his book cover,please contact us if you are interested [email protected]