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I Had a Row With a German (Hardback)

A Battle of Britain Casualty

Aviation > Aviation Biography & Memoirs Aviation > WWII > Battle of Britain

By Gp Capt Thomas Percy Gleave CBE, Introduction by Dilip Sarkar MBE
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 50+ integrated mono images
ISBN: 9781399072731
Published: 16th January 2023


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Thomas Percy Gleave began his RAF career in 1930, three years later becoming a member of the RAF aerobatic team. He joined Bomber Command on 1 January 1939, but at the outbreak of war Gleave requested a return to Fighter Command. He took command of 253 Squadron just in time for the start of the Battle of Britain, acquiring fame for claiming five Messerschmitt Bf 109s in a single day.

Tom Gleave, however, is remembered more for the misfortune which befell him on 31 August 1940. On that day he was shot down and badly burned when his Hurricane caught fire. In his memoir Tom Gleave tells of the early days of his encounters with the German aircraft in dramatic detail and, particularly of that dreadful day when he escaped his dying aircraft with severe burns to much of his body and his face.

After being taken to Orpington Hospital, Gleave was transferred to Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead where he was one of the first pilots to undergo plastic surgery by Archie, later Sir Archibald, Mclndoe and his brilliant colleague, Percy Jayes.

Gleave received leg and facial grafts, and his nose was reconstructed. The Guinea Pig Club was formed at Queen Victoria Hospital on 20 July 1941, with Mclndoe as President and Gleave as Vice-President and a Founder Member, being the club’s first and only Chief Guinea Pig until his death in 1993.

Originally written in 1941, this moving and graphic story is not one of despair but of overcoming adversity with cheerful determination not to allow circumstances of the past to determine the future. For, despite his terrible wounds, Tom Gleave returned to duty, becoming station commander of RAF Northolt and later RAF Manston. Above all, I Had a Row With a German is a ripping yarn of the cut and thrust of the Battle of Britain by one of Churchill’s memorable ‘Few’.


Aeroplane - August 2023

5 out of 5

I read the whole book in 3 sessions; I found it one of those books that I just didn’t want to put down. It was like looking at a slice of history under a magnifying glass. As much as anything, I found the social interactions in the correspondence fascinating.

Read the Full Review Here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

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About Gp Capt Thomas Percy Gleave CBE

Having gained his pilot’s licence in 1928, THOMAS PERCY GLEAVE was commissioned into the RAF in 1930. A gifted pilot, by 1933 he was a member of an RAF aerobatic team. On the outbreak of war in 1939, Gleave requested a transfer back into Fighter Command. Shot down in the Battle of Britain, he became a founding member of the Guinea Pig Club. Having a held a number of staff posts, including serving as Eisenhower’s Head of Air Plans at SHAEF in 1944 and 1945, Gleave was invalided out of the RAF in 1953. He passed away in June 1993.

 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.

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