Ralph Barker joined the RAF in 1940, serving as an air gunner and wireless operator until 1945. He was fortunate enough never to end up 'down in the drink' himself, though his Beaufort was hit a few times, and he survived a crash on take-off in which his pilot and navigator were killed. After the war, he worked in civil aviation for a short time, before rejoining the RAF, to work in the secretariat until 1961. DOWN IN THE DRINK (1957) was his first book to be published. It launched a successful career as a writer, in the course of which he has written over a dozen books on the RAF, books on terrorism and war at sea, and hundreds of feature articles for the Sunday Express. He celebrated his ninetieth birthday in 2007 - fifty years after the first publication of DOWN IN THE DRINK, shortly after attending a party celebrating its republication.