Shop H.E. Bates Online
The Day of Glory: A Play in Three Acts.
Page Count
Word Count
Michael Joseph
Publication Year
Document Types
Film & Television
Pilots, War

London: Michael Joseph, 1945 (August). 80 pp.

Set in the lounge of a family home in southern England and taking place in a twenty-four hour period in the summer of 1942, the play concerns "the impact of war on the individual...a single day of action as it affects the family of a young and successful fighter pilot. Through the eyes of his uncle, a colonel mentally wrecked by one war; of his young sister, adoring and in her adoration utterly oblivious of the future...of his pre-war fiancee (need accent) and her pre-war standards and ideals which she sees being destroyed before her eyes; of his lover, with her clarity and tenderness born out of the knowledge that the lives of pilots are shorter and more tense and more rarified than our own; and lastly of his mother, who with the brilliant and painful vision of motherhood sees the destruction of three generations exemplified by a single tragedy" (from the "Publisher's Note" as quoted in Eads, 1990, p. 60).

Resembling Bates's "Flying Officer X" stories in sympathetically portraying pilots and their motivations, the fears and desires of their loved ones, and the struggle to find meaning during wartime, the play was produced at Salisbury on October 31, 1945. It was broadcast the following week on BBC Radio on November 5, but not staged in London until 1946. A regional stage production (Tyneside, November 4-8, 1947) by the Progressive Players Gateshead can be seen in a rare set of photographs, alongside a programme. A television adaptation for the "BBC Sunday-Night Theatre" was aired in September 1951.

The Radio Times, in an issue just prior to the 1945 BBC Radio broadcast, published an essay in which Bates explained the origins and aims of the play.

In The World in Ripeness, Bates writes at some length of his aspirations as a playwright, and of his lack of success with some fifteen one-act or three-act works over the course of many years. Bates says that upon his assignment to the R.A.F. station at Oakington, he was inspired first to write a play, but focused instead on stories, especially as another author had written a play in a similar vein. By the time he returned to the work and had it produced in London, "all fervour for the war had been could only sense, on the first night, an atmosphere cold and disillusioned." Bates says that the play did better outside of London and "is, however, still [in 1972] performed and has even achieved, in Holland, a state of some permanency as an annual event."

Val Gielgud, in the Radio Times (November 2, 1945, p. 4) wrote that 'in my opinion, for what it is worth, it is the best play dealing with a war subject that I have read.' Appearing in the same issue was a brief item on one of the actors in the broadcast (November 2, 1945, p.9, 'Adventures of Halski', attached). Prior to the televised version in 1951, Lionel Hale, described the radio version as 'dramatically scattered. It remains for television to prove that its brilliant ingredients can be reassembled.'

A review in the Times (November 13, 1946, p. 8) asked why "is such a moving story told with so much accomplishment not a great deal more moving? Mr. Bates impresses the imagination without warming it: the characters do and say the effective things, but they never quite win the degree of sympathy which their situation seemingly warrants, they lack spontaneity and the discoveries they make about themselves and each other have a dulling air of platitude. Had the play been performed when it was written, during the war, it might have had that instancy and freshness which are now to seek: we should have ... overlooked the narrative strings and pulleys which are now all too plain, for all the neatness with which they are arranged."

The Times Literary Supplement writes that "It is an exciting piece of writing; yet there remains a suspicion that the writer has tried to squeeze too much into a single play and that his characters...are too narrowly representative to be wholly human." The New York Times, while noting the failure of the play to affect its audience, calls Bates "a major playwright in the making." The New Statesman and Nation called the play "a brilliant short story in dialogue."


  • New Statesman and Nation (September 1, 1945, p. 150, E.M. Butler, attached)
  • The New York Times (December 22, 1946, p. 46, W.A. Darlington, attached)
  • Punch (November 27, 1946, p. 482, attached)
  • Radio Times (November 2, 1945, p. 4, Val Gielgud, attached)
  • Radio Times (September 14, 1951, p. 47, Lionel Hale, attached)
  • The Times (November 13, 1946, p. 8, attached)
  • Times Literary Supplement (September 1, 1945, p. 416, Anthony Victor Cookman, attached)