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Battle of Britain The Gathering Storm (Hardback)

Prelude to the Spitfire Summer of 1940

Aviation > WWII > Battle of Britain P&S History > By Century > 20th Century WWII

By Dilip Sarkar MBE
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 312
Illustrations: 32 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399056366
Published: 1st June 2023


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Dilip Sarkar has studied the Battle of Britain period for a lifetime and is renowned for his meticulous research and evidence-based approach, setting events within the broadest possible context. In doing so, he has helped enrich our appreciation and understanding of the past.

In this, the first of a new eight volume series on the Battle of Britain, we have the background to the aerial conflict of the summer of 1940 revealed in great detail and told comprehensively as never before. No stone has been left unturned, no angle unexplored. This meticulous approach the research, combined with the human stories and events, many revealed for the first time, tells what Dilip calls ‘the Big Story’. The development of air power, the creation of Britain’s defences, the German side, the Home Front and political events are all covered – and much more.

After considering the background threads prior to the outbreak of war in 1939, this book then describes the developing conflict on land, sea and in the air. The German invasion of Norway, the Fall of France and the air fighting over Dunkirk are all explored, along with Hitler’s actual preferred policy towards Britain, which at first was one of blockade – not invasion.

The author, with justification, questions the validity of the Battle of Britain’s official start-date being 10 July 1940, evidencing the fact that the fighting actually began eight days earlier. From that date onwards, a day-by-day, hour-by-hour, account of the fighting is provided, giving due recognition to those aircrew lost or wounded before 10 July 1940, and whose names are not, therefore, found amongst ‘The Few’. Due accord is also given to the Royal Navy, and efforts of both Bomber and Coastal commands, emphasising just what a ‘big’ story this actually is – far from simply concerning a handful of Spitfire and Hurricane pilots.

Through diligent research with crucial official primary sources and personal papers, Dilip unravels many myths, often challenging the accepted narrative. This is not, however, simply another dull record of combat losses and claims, far from it. Drawing upon unique first-hand accounts from a wide-range of combatants and eyewitnesses, along with the daily Home Intelligence Reports and the papers of politicians such as Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano, this really is an unprecedented approach to understanding the build-up to and times of the Battle of Britain.

Article: "Author's 1 Million Words on Battle of Britain."

RAF News - January 12, 2024

5 out of 5

It is a very detailed account of an important period and I for one intend to read the rest of the series.

Read the Full Review Here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

As featured in

The Armourer, August 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Dilip Sarkar has written extensively on WW2, specifically the Battle of Britain and is a widely recognised expert on the subject. His 8 volume history of the Battle, of which this is the first volume, must be destined to be his magnus opus and I think this book marks an excellent start. In it he covers the build up of the RAF and the Luftwaffe from the end of WW1 explaining in detail the different strategic thinking and the aircraft and tactics which resulted. It is quite fascinating, well explained and made more interesting by focusing on the people involved in making decisions. He uses many sources and presents data to back up his arguments. He labours over the actual start date for the BofB providing good reason why the official date needs examining. He also makes a controversial challenge to the conventional view that this was an unequal battle against overwhelming odds. Once again, backed up with hard data.
He presents detailed descriptions of early engagements in the campaign tying together information from official debriefs of both RAF and Luftwaffe aircrew as well as from memoirs and journals. These I found both fascinating and tragic with the high loss of life. Within these recollections the dog fight tactics and technical limitations of the aircraft involved become more real and I found easier to appreciate. I am curious to read in future volumes whether this approach reveals more about what pilots thought of some of the more controversial tactics such as Mallory’s “Big Wing”.
I would suggest that this and future volumes will be must reads for all with an interest in the BofB or the air war in the early days of WW2.

NetGalley, Michael Neill

As featured in

Royal Air Force News

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Dilip Sarkar’s first of eight projected volumes on the Battle of Britain offers just the type of military history I relish. Detailed description of incidents, a profusion of primary source quotations, ample historical context, and satisfying analysis of the strategic and tactical implications of technology, the commanders, and the political environment... This is a labor of love and I think will be the definitive history of a defining battle.

NetGalley, Evan Ladouceur

This book, written in association with the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and the National Memorial to the Few in Great Britain, is the first in a proposed eight book series to deal with aspects of the Battle of Britain. The author, who holds an MBE, is a recognized authority on the events he is attempting to cover as you might expect given his associates in the creation of this series. This first volume will appeal principally to students and scholars either just approaching this subject or those who wish to revisit it through the prism of fresh scholarship. The book looks at any number of developments in the aerial arms race prior to the outbreak of World War II and includes detailed and interesting technical analyses of both the Supermarine Spitfire and the Hawker Hurricane, which would bear the brunt of the war in the air for the RAF during the Battle of Britain. I found this amongst the most interesting parts of this text. The author proceeds into the early months of the of the war with a light coverage of the developing war in the air prior to the Battle of Britain. I would be seriously remiss if I did not point out his detailed discussion of the embryonic home defense network as it evolved in the months and years just prior to the outbreak of war (principally between the Munich agreement and the fall of France). It is also worth noting that he relies heavily on primary sources relating to the experience of flying and fighting at this time; consequently, there is no shortage of useful insights garnered from pilots with experience of the weapon systems and the evolving tactical approach to the war in the air. If this book is any example of what we can expect from the rest of the series, it is going to be useful to scholars and students alike and belongs in any library which purports to have an interest in the Battle of Britain.

NetGalley, William Harris
 Dilip Sarkar MBE

About Dilip Sarkar MBE

Dilip Sarkar has now written over sixty well-received books. Having enjoyed a privileged relationship with many of The Few, he is a globally acknowledged expert on the Battle of Britain, currently working on a career-topping eight volume official history for The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and National Memorial to The Few. Described by the late Dr Gordon Mitchell, son of the Spitfire’s designer RJ Mitchell, as an ‘aviation detective’, Dilip Sarkar did actually begin his professional life as just that – a police detective. His evidence-based approach and ability to discover new material is well-known – in 2023, for example, he was responsible for having Air Chief-Marshal Sir Keith Park, a New Zealander, officially recognised as one of The Few. Made an MBE for ‘services to aviation history’ in 2003, Dilip was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society in 2006, achieved First Class Honours in Modern History as a mature student in 2010, and in 2024 was made both a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and member of London’s Royal Air Force Club. During his long career, Dilip has exhibited and spoken internationally at such prestigious venues as Oxford University, the RAF Museum, IWM Museum, and Airborne Museum, Oosterbeek; he has worked on many TV documentaries, on and off screen, again internationally, and has an engaging presence on YouTube and Facebook in particular.

Perfect Partner

Battle of Britain Attack of the Eagles 13 August 1940 – 18 August 1940 (Hardback)

In this unprecedented series exploring the big story of the Battle of Britain, renowned historian Dilip Sarkar investigates the wider context and intimate details of the epic aerial conflict in the summer of 1940 from all sides. In so doing, he gives due acknowledgement to the roles of Bomber and Coastal Commands in addition to the fabled Few of Fighter Command. This unique narrative draws upon a lifetime of research, the author having enjoyed a long relationship with survivors and the relatives of casualties; his innumerable interviews and first-hand accounts collated, in addition to privileged…

By Dilip Sarkar MBE

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