"Duty Calls": Battle of Britain
James Holland

Pilot officer Archie Jackson, 19, is in control of the RAF's newest fighter aircraft, a Supermarine Spitfire. Now he has the Luftwaffe in his sights and only one thing matters: defending Britain.
Suddenly planes are falling from the sky, exploding and spiralling into the English Channel. France has fallen and the swastika flies over Occupied Europe. Only these young pilots - barely out of boyhood - stand between Britain and a Nazi invasion...

This novel offers action, excitement (in terms of the aerial combat scenes so richly rendered here), romance, and a sobering view of the pain, loss, and gut-wrenching sorrow that war leaves in its wake. (Komet)
Amira, from Wren Academy Barnet

Although it took me a while to get into this book, I was pleasantly surprised. I found it showed a realistic insight to what life was as a pilot in World War Two. 

The book revolves around Archie and Ted, who both pilot ‘Spitfires’ - which were considered to be the best fighter planes during that time. The story is about the experiences they have during the war; the author skilfully portrays not only action and excitement throughout the book, but also brings attention to the pain, loss and sorrow that the war caused.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to anyone who likes action packed but yet emotional books set in the war. 

Avani, from Wren Academy Barnet

James Holland has successfully shown all the emotions of those people in war. However the blurb does not have or portray a high level of interest to the reader. Also the beginning of the book does not intrigue the reader to read on. Although the beginning is not very interesting, the end has a lot of tension.

Many times in the book, there is a slight feeling that the plot is getting a little lost. Keeping aware of this the reader also needs to keep track of the story. Even though it’s hard to keep track of the story, the language used in the book portrays such strong emotions and feelings that the reader can empathize with the characters very well.

The target audience for this book is young adults.

Overall recommendation for this book would be a rating of 1 star out of 5.

Bea, from Wren Academy Barnet

Just looking at the front cover, I wasn’t too excited by this book. It seemed a bit too much of a ‘boys book’ for me. But, as always, I had a go and, as always, I was pleasantly surprised (I still haven’t learned not to judge a book by its cover!).

This book throws you into the world of 19 year old Archie Jackson, who is in control of the RAF’s best and newest aircraft. The Spitfire. He is immersed in a world of planes and people falling out of the sky… whilst he’s still a teenager. 

The book realistically portrays war and its horrors, and in no way glorifies it or makes you want to be there. This is probably the thing that I liked most about it – its stark difference from the war-condoning video games that are most modern teenagers' only experience of war. 

I would recommend this book to teenagers interested in real war or action books in general.

Daveed, from University College School London

Duty Calls is an interesting novel about a young RAF pilot called Archie in the second world war. James Holland plunges us into the action with Archie first combat, over the Channel. He brings down two enemy Messerschmitts but is forced to crash land near Dunkirk, in the centre of no-man land. The story continues to unfold with twists and cliffhangers through the chapters. Archie and his best friend Ted lose friends, win battles, but (almost) always stay together. Archie falls in love with Ted’s sister, causing a falling out half-way through the book. Just as the readers think Archie oldest friendship could be over, they get it back on track while the German groups of planes keep getting bigger.

A massive twist, which I won’t spoil, comes right at the end, just as the last battle is unfolding.

This book is like a gigantic roller coaster, with twists, turns and a whole lot of action. I would love to read the other book in this series, Duty Calls, Dunkirk, and any other book the author James Holland has written.

Jack, from University College School London

I had high hopes for Duty Calls. I am not a fan of any army books, or the category in general, but after reading the blurb, I thought it could prove my army books theory wrong.

I was disappointed….

The plot was not awful, but was not brilliant by any stretch of the imagination. The plot lacked a bit of oomph and I did not like the main character. This might sound a bit one sided review as I dislike army related books.

I did, however, enjoy the ending of the book. Rating: 2 ½ / 5 

Lily, from East Barnet School

Duty Calls: Battle of Britain is about a nineteen-year-old fighter pilot called Archie Jackson who flies Spitfires in WWII. Archie is properly fighting for the first time and no training could have prepared him for the horror of seeing an enemy pilot plunging to his death, one that he had shot down. But Archie learns to cope with the violence of war and becomes a successful and experienced fighter pilot.

Despite the effects of war Archie still finds happiness. His squadron are friendly, kind and laugh together. Archie also becomes quite attached to his friend’s, Ted Tyler, sister, Tess Tyler. He spends days off with the Tyler family who are very kind and easy to be around. Ted and Tess’ father Group Captain Guy Tyler is an old flying ace from WWI, he know works in the Air Ministry and gives Ted and Archie lots of information about the war effort. A big battle is looming, everyone can feel it but are the RAF strong enough to win it?


I thought Duty Calls: Battle of Britain was a brilliant and gripping read. It was very enjoyable and exciting, the air battles were amazing. It was slightly like Code Name Verity but the flying parts were more interesting because it was from a male point of view rather than a female and men could do more things in WWII. Duty Call: Battle of Britain was very realistic too I thought because it didn’t have one plot like other action novels (unless you count the looming Battle of Britain) it had lots of small adventures and twists such as when Archie crashes his Spitfire over France or the dogfights and sorties in the sky.


I would recommend Duty Calls: Battle of Britain to all teenagers, not just boys because it is gripping and very readable. I would like to read James Holland’s other book Duty Calls: Dunkirk because it will probably be just as good as Battle of Britain and it mentions Archie Jackson which is why Battle of Britain was created. All in all I think Duty Calls: Battle of Britain is extremely gripping and well written.

Lucas, from University College School London

Duty Calls, I’m afraid, was a woeful book. The phrase “never judge a book by its cover” was both literally and metaphorically deeply ingrained in me from an early age. Therefore I approached this book, which coincidentally had an awful cover, with an open mind. Halfway through, I gave up. First time I’ve done so, and if I’m presented with such utter tosh again it won’t be the last.

The book was nothing you’d ever pick up and read. It was the type of book that is completely disregarded and left to rot, eventually becoming fuel for fires. Depressing ones.

Natasha, from Wren Academy Barnet

In this book I found it interesting and a new setting to war because this book showed me what war time was like and it also showed me a very interesting side to war.

It is based on the six-year war of World War Two which ended in 1945. The story is about two pilots, Archie and Ted, who join an air fighter squadron who pilot “Spitfires”, which was considered the best fighter aircraft for Britain in its time back then.

A great book and emotional story of war, loss and friendship, I had a great time reading it. The only reason why I didn’t give it 5 stars was because there could’ve possibly been a little more action in the skies, but that’s my opinion. Otherwise, it was really good.

Nicole, from Wren Academy Barnet

I find the friendship of Archie and Ted is sweet and in the middle of the book, when they had the fight, I was waiting until they got back together (even if it was obvious). I was happy when they made up.

Luck is literally on Archie’s side….it’s quite good but annoying because it’s very unlikely.

The surprising fact and quite sad is that: books like this are non-fiction, which is good for younger students to know historical facts and enjoy how Archie has his adventure, but it’s quite worrying what it is like in the real world so the children can see the reality (especially boys that think wars are awesome).

The characters are easily likable and kind especially Jock and Ginger when Archie met them. I love the character’s names: Happy, Ginger….Ginger dies….

My favourite character I think is Ted because he is funny but he still acts like a child which got Archie and himself in to the other/lower group. Plus, I think Ted is funny when he teases Archie about Tess (Ted’s sister) especially when he says “... my best friend has gone and fallen head over heels with my sister”. Also, I find it hilarious when Ted meets Jenny (friend of Tess): it’s obvious that Archie and Tess like each other, however I think Archie becomes so cheesy when he is with Tess.

This book is beautifully written and very detailed to make the reader easily imagine and enjoy it…however some parts I did zoom out in the beginning so maybe you need to keep the reader occupied and making the scene have a sudden action to surprise the reader because it’s wonderful but very expected.

I’ve got to admit this book is more for boys but I equally enjoyed it. Also very useful - the glossary… I used it so many times! Sometimes I wish that the book was in the first person to know more about Archie and I think it would have fitted more with the plot. Conversely, I think even James Holland realised and made Archie write a journal which I find very clever.

I find it touching when Mick takes a picture of Ted and Archie but in twenty four hours he dies… 

Noam, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Archie Jackson is in control of a Supermarine Spitfire during World War 2. He and his friend Ted have to endure a war enduring intense dogfights to help save Britain from Nazi invasion.

Archie lives in the highlands of Scotland. During university he and his best friend decide to join a weekend flying old biplanes as Ted’s dad (Ted is Archie’s best friend) was a hero flying planes in the previous war.

Suddenly a war comes along and now Archie and Ted are recruited for action to save their country from invasion.

One thing matters now... Saving Britain from Nazi control!

This book is great. It is full of romance, action, adrenaline, friend loss, reality and sadness. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants quite an easy read and wants to learn a bit more about World War 2.

Sam, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Archie loves aeroplanes and any other machines. Then he meets Ted the son of a WWI pilot. Together they join a weekend flying group.

Then the war came around. Their group is turned into an RAF fighter squadron and everything is suddenly a bit more real.

James Holland cleverly tells a story of how Archie shoots down German planes, gets shot down all while having a love life with Ted`s sister Tess.

A great book which grips you from page one. (Well 1% in my case because I read it on kindle.) This book could be a real classic.

Sophie, from Wren Academy Barnet

A mesmerizing read, Duty Calls is a totally fantastic book.

Archie Jackson (the RAF submarine spitfire pilot) is a very believable. The way James Holland conveys Archie means I really felt like I could connect with him. I think Archie is a truly inspirational character; who I wish I could meet in real life.

Another feature that made duty calls stand out was the age of Archie. Normally in books about War the hero is a middle age man, and I find it hard to enjoy a book when you have nothing to relate to with the main character. Archie Jackson is so believable by the end of the book you feel like he is your friend. 

All in all I think this is an amazing book and I cannot wait to read it again

Tadeshola, from Wren Academy Barnet

Duty Calls is a war book based on World War Two. The main character is a boy called Archie Jackson who is 19. He has been obsessed with aircraft and machinery ever since he was a young boy; consequently, he later decides to become a pilot a fly a Spitfire.

He left at 17 and then joined a university to study engineering; during his stay at Durham University he meets his best friend Ted Tyler together you join them in epic battles as they fight to save England. He then joins the RAF to fly the Supermarine Spitfire. France fell and the Nazis are invading Europe but can these two young men defend Britain - or what’s left of it?

I really enjoyed this book as it was entertaining and it taught me a bit more about World War Two. The storyline is gripping and action packed. I would recommend this book to teenagers specifically boys, although girls might enjoy it as well.

I rate this book 4 stars because it was detailed and gave technical information about flying in an aircraft also it included a glossary about words and terms used in the RAF at that time.  

Yumna, from Wren Academy Barnet

I haven’t read many books about World War 2 and if I’m honest, Duty Calls would not be one of the books I would have picked to read myself. However James Holland has put the topic of World War 2 in a new light for me. It’s a great book although admittedly I found some parts a bit confusing and but overall it had a lot of information and detail, and I learnt quite a bit about World War 2.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy books about history and World War 2, although this is not everyone’s type of book. 

Zinnia, from Wren Academy Barnet

Duty calls is the story of a nineteen year old boy called Archie Jackson during World War 2. He has been given control of the RAF’s best fighter plane, a Supermarine Spitfire. In his squadron there are a few people like Ted Tyler, Will Merton-Moore and Mike Drumond who become some of his best friends.

This book is not suitable for young and sensitive children as there is death in this book.

To be honest, I did not enjoy this book because I am not very fond of war stories.

Unputdownability = 2 (I found this book particularly hard to read as I was not engaged) 

Plot = 4 (I found this plot very hard to follow and that is why I am giving it a 4)

Well written = 7 (I can’t deny that this book was well written. The language used all made sense and there was some very good vocabulary that I learnt from this book.)

Overall = 4 This is a good book for anyone who strongly likes war stories.