Spitfire and Hurricane fighter pilots recount their experiences of combat during the Battle of Britain. 2,927 aircrew of RAF Fighter Command fought and won the Battle of Britain in 1940, 544 lost their lives in action. They flew to battle in Spitfires and Hurricanes, Defiants and Blenheims, although it is the two former fighter types - single-seaters both - that still inspire and capture our imagination. The legendary legless fighter 'ace' Douglas Bader once said that the Battle of Britain was 'not won by a few aces, but by the average squadron pilot who collectively did their bit.' One of those men, Peter Fox, described himself and his fellows as mere 'also rans' - but clearly, without them, Fighter Command could not have prevailed. In this book, Dilip Sarkar relates their stories, researched through personal interviews, correspondence and contemporary archive material. Many of the pilots featured became 'aces' in the Battle of Britain, others achieved such status afterwards whilst others went into action only to be instantly blasted out of the sky without even having seen the enemy. Their collective experience, however, is typical of those who flew Spitfires and Hurricanes in 1940.
Fascinated by the Battle of Britain since childhood, Dilip Sarkar remains both moved and inspired by the story of Churchill's fabled Few, those young airmen who stood between freedom and a Britain dominated by Nazi Germany. Since the 1970s he has met and interviewed more Battle of Britain pilots than any other historian. He has researched the subject thoroughly and has published over twenty books, including The Few: The Story of the Battle of Britain in the Words of the Pilots ('A well-researched, detailed chronicle of the Battle of Britain - written by the men who fought so bravely to repulse the German raiders' HUGH SEBAG-MONTEFIORE), The Battle of Britain: The Photographic Kaleidoscope ('An excellent book' LADY BADER), Bader's Tangmere Spitfires ('A most diligent and carefully researched account' JOHNNIE JOHNSON, the RAF's top scoring fighter ace in WW2), Fighter Pilot ('This book deserves to achieve success' DAME VERA LYNN). In 2003, Dilip was made an MBE for services to aviation history, and elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society in 2006. He lives in Worcester.