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Battle of Britain 1940 (Hardback)

The Finest Hour's Human Cost

WWII Aviation Battle of Britain Aviation in WWII

By Dilip Sarkar MBE
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 392
Illustrations: 100
ISBN: 9781526775931
Published: 17th June 2020


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The summer of 1940 remains a pivotal moment in modern British history – still inspiring immense national pride and a global fascination.

The Fall of France was catastrophic. Britain stood alone and within range of German air attack. America, with its vast resources was neutral, Hitler’s forces unbeaten, the outlook for Britain bleak. As Britain’s wartime leader, Winston Churchill, rightly predicted, ‘the Battle of Britain is about to begin’.

Famously, Churchill mobilised the English language, emboldening the nation with rousing rhetoric. In this darkest of hours, Churchill told the people that this was, in fact, their ‘Finest Hour’, a time of unprecedented courage and defiance which defined the British people. Connecting the crucial battle with Shakespeare’s heroic Henry V and Agincourt, Churchill also immortalised Fighter Command’s young aircrew as the ‘Few’ – to whom so many owed everything.

The Few comprised nearly 3,000 aircrew, 544 of which gave their lives during the Battle of Britain’s sixteen weeks of high drama. Arguably, however, the official dates of 10 July – 31 October 1940 are arbitrary, the fighting actually ongoing before and afterwards. Many gave their lives whose names are not included among the Few, as, of course, did civilians, seamen and ground staff – which is not overlooked in this ground-breaking book.

In this unique study, veteran historian and author Dilip Sarkar explores the individual stories of a wide selection of those who lost their lives during the ‘Finest Hour’, examining their all-too brief lives and sharing these tragic stories – told here, in full, for the first time. Also included is the story of a German fighter pilot, indicating the breadth of investigation involved.

Researched with the full cooperation of the families concerned, this work is a crucial contribution to the Battle of Britain’s bibliography.

An interesting and engaging book looking at the Battle of Britain, looking at some lesser known heroes and not the usual really well known names we often hear about. Really interesting, detailed accounts and the backgrounds of these heroes. Well presented and a great narrative, a good addition to the library of anyone interested in the War, Battle of Britain or any history buffs.

NetGalley, Tara Keating

I have read other accounts of the Battle of Britain. This book gives a more personal account of those eventful 16 weeks. Mr. Sarkar has done a superb job of telling their stories. I like the selected cover art.

NetGalley, John Purvis

An interesting read. Unlike most historical novels detailing the events, the author examines the roles of various participants in the battle. Each story tells the life of an individual, and not the ones most famous, but those in the background. A good engaging book.

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

About Dilip Sarkar MBE

Driven by his passion to research and share the stories of casualties and record the human experience of war, DILIP SARKAR is a best-selling author whose work is highly regarded globally. A noted expert on the Battle of Britain period, who enjoyed a long and very personal relationship with the Few, Dilip was made an MBE in 2003 for ‘services to aviation history’, and, in 2006, elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society. A sought-after, dynamic speaker, Dilip's work has been exhibited internationally and he continues to work on TV documentaries, on and off camera. 

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