The amazing story of one of 'the Few', fighter ace Tom Neil. This is a fighter pilot's story of eight memorable months from May to December 1940. When the Germans were blitzing their way across France, Pilot Officer Tom Neil had just received his first posting - to 249 Squadron, in process for forming at RAF Church Fenton in Yorkshire. Nineteen years old, fresh from training at Montrose on Hawker Audax biplanes he was soon to be pitch forked into the maelstrom of air fighting on which the survival of Britain was to depend. By the end of the year he had shot down 13 enemy aircraft, seen many of his friends killed, injured or burned, and was himself a wary and accomplished fighter pilot. Tom Neil is one of only a handful of veterans still alive today. The average age of surviving veterans is 91. Only 20 veterans out of 2947 official Battle of Britain pilots are fit enough to attend Battle of Britain Fighter Association events (although around 90 are still alive in total). He is 89 and lives in Suffolk with his wife who was a Fighter Command plotter when they met in 1940. He flew 141 combat missions (few pilots reached 50) mostly from North Weald airfield in Essex, and shot down 13 enemy aircraft during the Battle of Britain. Tom Neil was one of the pilots the War Ministry used in their propaganda at the time of the Battle of Britain partly because of his height (6 ft 4) and his good looks. Tom Neil flew with James Nicolson at the time he won the only Battle of Britain Victoria Cross.
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About the Author
Tom Neil joined 249 Squadron flying Hurricanes just before the start of the Battle of Britain. His first victory was an Me 109, followed in quick succession by twelve others. Tom was awarded a Bar to his DFC in November 1940. After the Battle of Britain, he was soon in action again in the skies over Malta where he gained another victory. His other books include The Silver Spitfire and Gun Button To Fire. He is the Chairman of the Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot Association. Now ninety-five, he lives in Norfolk and has three sons, two of whom carry on the tradition of flying. His wife of over seventy years, Eileen, herself an RAF Flight Officer during the war, sadly died last year.