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Air Marshal Sir Keith Park (ePub)

Victor of the Battle of Britain, Defender of Malta

Aviation > Aircraft > Spitfires & Hurricanes Aviation > Royal Air Force Aviation > WWII > Battle of Britain

By Murray Rowlands
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
File Size: 9.3 MB (.epub)
Pages: 184
Illustrations: 16 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526767912
Published: 22nd January 2021


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The Battle of Britain from July to September 1940 is one of the finest moments in our Nation’s history. While credit rightly goes to ‘The Few’, victory could never have happened without the inspirational command and leadership of New Zealander Keith Park.

He and Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding ensured that Fighter Command was prepared for the Nazi onslaught. Promoted to Air Vice Marshal, Park took over No 11 Group, responsible for the defence of London and South East England in April 1940. A shrewd tactician and hands-on commander, Park carefully husbanded his limited resources and famously wore down Goering’s Luftwaffe, thus forcing Hitler to abandon his invasion plans.

Shamefully Dowding and Park were dismissed from their commands in the aftermath of victory due to internal RAF politics. Fortunately, Park’s career was far from over and his management of the defence of Malta made significant contribution to victory in the Mediterranean.

This balanced and well overdue account hopefully ensures that Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park receives the credit for victory that he so richly deserves.

Article "The Forgotten Member of the 'The Few'"

Sir Keith Park, the 'Defender of London', has been formally recognised for his role in the Battle of Britain.

Britain at War Magazine

Article: "Air Chief Sir Keith was one of The Few"

RAF News - September 8th 2023

Featured in

Over the Front

"Rowlands highlights some of the major engagements while emphasizing the logistical and leadership challenges Park confronted."

Air Power History, Winter 2021

Read the review here

The Dominion Post

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know who Keith Park really was and how crucial his leadership was to the RAF victory in the Battle of Britain.

Todd Shugart, Aviation News

This biography, as its sub-title suggests, concentrates on the part Park played in winning the Battle of Britain, and in the Defence of Malta. It has one brief chapter describing his ancestry and early life, and then two telling of his experiences in WW1; he joined the Artillery and served first at Gallipoli, and then in France before transferring to the RFC, and learning to fly at Netheravon.
By 1918 he was commanding a squadron on the western front, and then spent the years of peace in various roles, including that of Air Attaché, before being appointed to the post for which he is perhaps best known, commanding 11 group during the Battle of Britain. Given the book’s sub-title it so no surprise that the bulk of its content deals, in some detail, with Park’s role in the battle, his stance on the “Big Wing” controversy, and his and Dowding’s dismissal as soon at the battle was won.
Following chapters describe Park’s role in the defence of Malta and then his return, in 1948, to New Zealand. He had left his native land as a newly promoted corporal, and retired there as a highly decorated Air Chief Marshall.
The book, written by a fellow New Zealander, is illustrated with photographs and with maps and charts, and is completed by an extensive bibliography and a comprehensive index.

Cross and Cockade

Read the full review here

A Blog on Winston Churchill

Featured in

Battlefield, Spring 2021 Issue

As featured in

March/April issue of London Calling, the journal of the London at War Study Group

Article: Park and pride, the RAF hero treated so shabbily by Air Council, words by Tracey Allen

RAF News, 26th March 2021

Click here to listen to interview with author Murray Rowlands

NOTE: set cursor to 37:27

Surrey Hills Community Radio, 12th February 2021

Author article featured by

Third Age Matters, September 2020

About Murray Rowlands

Murray Rowlands was born in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1941. After graduating from Victoria University of Wellington he worked in the New Zealand Civil Service.
In 1968 he travelled to Britain for post-graduate study. He became Assistant Principal at Hammersmith and West London College and a Director at Morley College in London. In 1970 he was a foundation tutor for the Open University in Social Science. In 2004 he published his first novel ‘The Andropov Tapes’ based around events in Eastern Europe.
He has written three works of military history including Aldershot in The Great War and Hampshire At War 1939-1945 (Pen and Sword Military, 2018).
He lives at Camberley, Surrey.

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