Last of the Few: The Battle of Britain in the Words of the Pilots Who Won It

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Overview


After the fall of France in May 1940, the British Expeditionary Force was miraculously evacuated from Dunkirk. Britain now stood alone to face Hitler’s inevitable invasion attempt. For the German army to land across the channel, Hitler needed mastery of the skies—the Royal Air Force would have to be broken. So every day throughout the summer, German bombers pounded the RAF air bases in the southern counties. Greatly outnumbered by the Luftwaffe, the pilots of RAF Fighter Command scrambled as many as five times a...
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Last of the Few: The Battle of Britain in the Words of the Pilots Who Won It

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Overview


After the fall of France in May 1940, the British Expeditionary Force was miraculously evacuated from Dunkirk. Britain now stood alone to face Hitler’s inevitable invasion attempt. For the German army to land across the channel, Hitler needed mastery of the skies—the Royal Air Force would have to be broken. So every day throughout the summer, German bombers pounded the RAF air bases in the southern counties. Greatly outnumbered by the Luftwaffe, the pilots of RAF Fighter Command scrambled as many as five times a day, and civilians watched skies crisscrossed with the contrails from the constant dogfights between Spitfires and Me-109s. Britain’s very freedom depended on the outcome of that summer’s battle: Its air defenses were badly battered and nearly broken, but against all odds, “The Few,” as they came to be known, bought Britain’s freedom—many with their lives. More than a fifth of the British and Allied pilots died during the Battle of Britain.

These are the personal accounts of the pilots who fought and survived that battle. Their stories are as riveting, as vivid, and as poignant as they were seventy years ago. We will not see their like again.

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Editorial Reviews

Daily Mail
“No one can relive the battle except the men who fought it, and here they are in a tide of telling testimony . . . expertly tracked down and anthologized by our foremost oral historian of war.”
Library Journal
British oral historian Arthur (Forgotten Voices of the Second World War) has gathered the personal remembrances of many Battle of Britain vets. The recollections are not arranged by veteran (although each memory is attributed) but by the chronology of experience from learning to fly, to signing up, to actual battle experiences. Because the entries are so short, readers will feel that they are missing many more details from each oral history. There are no source notes, but most of these memories evidently come from recorded interviews held by the Imperial War Museum, not just of flying veterans but of ground crew members and radio and warning networks, as well as a few Germans. With many photos of particular veterans in uniform. A chronology and organizational charts would have been nice additions. VERDICT A readable complement to James Holland's The Battle of Britain, this will reward readers in search of primary sources on the subject.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616083083
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/1/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 724,199
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Max Arthur served with the RAF and is the United Kingdom’s foremost oral historian. He is the author of the bestselling Forgotten Voices of the Great War, Forgotten Voices of the Second World War, and Dambusters. He is also the military obituary writer for the Independent. He lives in England.
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Table of Contents

Author's Note vii

List of Abbreviations xi

Map xiii

Introduction 1

1 Learning to Fly and Joining Up 5

2 First Combat and the Battle for France 48

3 The Battle of Britain Phase I: The Channel Battles 1 July to 11 August 89

4 The Battle of Britain Phase II: Eagle Attack: Assault against the Coastal Airfields 12-23 August 141

5 The Battle of Britain Phase III: The Luftwaffe Targets the Airfields 24 August to 6 September 191

6 The Battle of Britain Phase IV: The Tide Turns 7 September to 31 October 229

Acknowledgements 275

Index 279

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2014

    Definitive book on the early WWII RAF airmen.

    One of best books I have ever read on the men who flew in early days of war. They were the finest.( I sat in the cockpit of a Spitfire fuselage that had been moved to the Museum of Science and Industry in Rockefeller Center in 1942. I was just a few years younger than the men who had flown this plane.)
    I was uncomfortable with testimonies from German pilots that the author seemed to equate with those of the RAF. The Germans flew to help Hitler achieve his goals. This war was not a soccer match. Had the Germans won the war in part through the efforts of the Luftwaffe, I and my family would have been gassed and cremated.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2012

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    Posted August 27, 2014

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    Posted October 5, 2012

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