Letters from the Few: Unique Memories from the Battle of Britain

Letters from the Few: Unique Memories from the Battle of Britain

by Dilip Sarkar MBE


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Fascinated by the Battle of Britain from an early age, as a young man Dilip Sarkar realized that recording and sharing the Few’s memories was of paramount importance. At the time, back in the mid-1980s, membership of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association was well populated and the then Honorary Secretary, the now late Wing Commander Pat Hancock DFC, OBE, supported Dilip’s research by forwarding letters to individual pilots of interest.

Those members of the Few included a wide-range of personalities, from famous airmen like Group Captain Peter Townsend and Air Marshal Sir Denis Crowley-Milling, to the ‘also rans’, as Battle of Britain Hurricane pilot Peter Fox famously described himself and peers. Indeed, it was Peter’s ‘also rans’ that were of the greatest interest to Dilip, who recognized that whilst many famous and distinguished pilots had either published personal memoirs or had biographies written about them, lesser-lights had no platform to record and share their experiences. This Dilip became dedicated to resolving.

For many years, Dilip enjoyed prolific correspondence with the Few. These letters – hundreds of them – now represent a unique primary source, confirming the incredibly close relationship the author enjoyed with his heroes and high esteem in which they likewise held him. Over the years, Dilip’s published work has enormously benefited from his unique knowledge of the people involved through this very personal association, the memories collated providing his books a real ‘human’ touch. As the Few sadly fade away, it is only now that the significance of Dilip’s correspondence, industry and archive arising are becoming truly apparent.

In Letters From The Few, Dilip shares with us, for the first time, a small selection of his correspondence with Battle of Britain fighter pilots, providing us an inspirational insight into the immeasurable value of this research and personalities involved.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781526775894
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 10/05/2020
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

A prolific author, DILIP SARKAR has been obsessed with the Second World War for a lifetime. An MBE for ‘services to aviation history’, and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, unsurprisingly, for a retired police detective with a First in Modern History, his work has always been evidence-based - often challenging long-accepted myths. Firmly focussed on the ‘human’ experience of war, his many previous works include the authorized biographies of Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader and Air Vice-Marshal ‘Johnnie’ Johnson, the best-selling Spitfire Manual and The Few. Dilip has presented at such prestigious venues as Oxford University, the Imperial War and RAF Museums, and National Memorial Arboretum; he works on TV documentaries, both on and off screen.

Table of Contents

Author's Note & Glossary vii

Acknowledgements xi

Foreword xii

Prologue xiv

Chapter 1 Flight Lieutenant Richard Jones AE 1

Chapter 2 Group Captain Peter Townsend CVO DSO DFC* 9

Chapter 3 Wing Commander Roger Boulding 32

Chapter 4 Squadron Leader Dennis Adams 50

Chapter 5 Group Captain George Denholm DFC 61

Chapter 6 Squadron Leader Jack Stokoe DFC 72

Chapter 7 Group Captain Herbert Pinfold 78

Chapter 8 Warrant Officer Peter Fox 84

Chapter 9 Flight Lieutenant Denis Nichols 94

Chapter 10 Wing Commander Frederick Higginson OBE DFC DFM 101

Chapter 11 Flight Lieutenant Reg Johnson 106

Chapter 12 Air Commodore Herbert Mermagen CB AFC 114

Chapter 13 Wing Commander Frank Brinsden 121

Chapter 14 Wing Commander George Unwin DSO DFM 132

Chapter 15 Air Vice-Marshal David Scott-Maiden CB DSO DFC 141

Chapter 16 Group Captain Alec Ingle DFC AFC AE 147

Chapter 17 Air Commodore Peter Brothers CBE DSO DFC* 156

Chapter 18 Flight Lieutenant Reg Nutter DFC 168

Chapter 19 Squadron Leader Boleslaw Drobinski VM KW DFC 180

Chapter 20 Squadron Leader Bob Beardsley DFC 193

Chapter 21 Flight Lieutenant Harry Welford AE 205

Chapter 22 Flight Lieutenant William Walker AE 222

Chapter 23 Air Marshal Sir Denis Crowley-Milling KCB DSO DFC* 241

Chapter 24 Squadron Leader Jerzy Poplawski VM KW 252

Chapter 25 Sergeant Ray Johnson (Armourer) 266

Chapter 26 Group Captain John Cunningham CBE DSO** DFC* 274

Epilogue Hauptmann Hermann Kell 284

Bibliography 299

Index 303

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