Home CFB Borden 16 Wing Dive into History with “SPROG” by Malcolm Kelly

Dive into History with “SPROG” by Malcolm Kelly

Malcolm Kelly in the front foyer of CFB Borden’s CANEX Mall promoting SPROG to members and civilians (Caleb Hooper/Borden Citizen)

Witness the story of four young soldiers across the globe who are faced with the realities of WWII 

Experience the raw courage, youthful spirit and poignant realities of wartime through the pages of “SPROG,” a novel that bridges the gap between history and imagination.  

Crafted by Malcolm Kelly, a seasoned journalist with a 40-year tenure in the field and 18 years dedicated to teaching, “SPROG” is not just a book—it’s a journey through the skies of Bomber Command, a tribute to the brave souls who fought and the innocent lives touched by the turbulence of war. 

Kelly’s inspiration stems from a deeply personal place with both of his parents being combat veterans of the Second World War. His father, a survivor of the Battle of Calais and an instrumental figure in the Rifle Brigade, and his mother, a resilient soul who weathered the Bristol Blitz, serve as the novel’s bedrock. This intimate connection lends “SPROG” an authenticity that resonates with every word on the page. 

“Well, both my parents were second world war combat veterans,” Kelly said. “I like to say that I was that close to not being here. So, that’s what I like to call [my mother] a combat veteran because I think if you survive having your house blitzed out from around you, you’re a combat veteran.” 

Malcolm Kelly in the front foyer of CFB Borden’s CANEX Mall promoting SPROG to members and civilians (Caleb Hooper/Borden Citizen)

“SPROG” tells the tale of young men from Southern Ontario and beyond, drawn together under the banner of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to partake in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. These were not yet soldiers but boys on the cusp of a transformation, their stories untold, their fates unsealed. By the end of WWII, 2,728 pilots had received their wings in Borden alone. 

“The book took 15 years,” Kelly said. “The journalism helped with the research and that sort of thing… I knew I didn’t have a publisher until I signed in 2020. So, for 15 years, I didn’t have to worry about deadlines.” 

Kelly masterfully weaves a narrative that captures their transition from civilian life to the harsh realities of war, all while maintaining the essence of their youth—full of dreams, mischief and a relentless pursuit of the unknown. 

Drawing on extensive research and personal interviews, including insights from Bomber Command veterans, Kelly ensures that “SPROG” is a testament to historical accuracy and emotional depth. His commitment to authenticity is evident in every scene, from the adrenaline-fueled sorties over enemy territory to the quieter moments that reveal the human spirit behind the uniform. 

“When I wrote the section on [a character] getting killed, I got very emotional and when I finished writing, I had to go around the block,” said Kelly. “I walked around the block and I bawled my eyes out.” 

“SPROG” is more than a historical novel; it’s a portal to a time when the world was engulfed in chaos, and yet, hope and humanity persevered. Malcolm Kelly invites readers to remember the sacrifices made and to understand the legacies left behind. As we turn the pages, we not only delve into the lives of those who fought for our freedom but also pay homage to their courage and resilience. 

Embark on this remarkable journey through history with “SPROG.” It’s a story of war, but also of growth, survival and the indomitable spirit of youth facing the unimaginable.  

Available now on Amazon, at Indigo and through the CANEX network, “SPROG” is a must-read for anyone captivated by the tales of our past and the lessons they hold for our future. 

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