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Johnnie Johnson's Great Adventure (Hardback)

The Spitfire Ace of Ace's Last Look Back

Aviation Aviation in WWII Spitfires & Hurricanes Biographies

By Dilip Sarkar MBE
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 288
Illustrations: 16 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526791740
Published: 29th October 2020

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Air Vice-Marshal Johnnie Johnson – a policeman’s son from Leicestershire – ended the Second World War as the RAF’s top-scoring fighter pilot. Fearless, and an exceptional pilot and marksman, Johnnie was also highly intelligent and a gifted writer.

Having published two of his own books, Wing Leader and The Circle of Air Fighting, during the 1980s and 1990s, Johnnie co-authored several more with another fighter ace, namely Wing Commander P.B. ‘Laddie’ Lucas. In 1997, the ‘AVM’ suggested to his friend, the prolific author Dilip Sarkar, that the pair should collaborate on The Great Adventure – a book that would, in effect, be Johnnie’s account of the ‘Long Trek’ from Normandy across Northern Europe into the heart of the Third Reich itself.

‘Greycap Leader’ was to produce a draft, after which Dilip would add the historical detail and comment. Sadly, the project was unfulfilled, because Johnnie became ill and passed away, aged eighty-five, in 2001. Years later, Johnnie’s eldest son, Chris, discovered the manuscript among his august father’s papers. In order to keep Johnnie’s memory evergreen, Chris turned to Dilip to finally see the project through to its conclusion.

In this book Johnnie re-visits certain aspects of his wartime service, including the development of tactical air cooperation with ground forces; his time as a Canadian wing leader in 1943, when the Spitfire Mk.IX at last outclassed the Fw 190; and details his involvement in some of the most important battles of the defeat of Nazi Germany, including Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings in 1944, Operation Market Garden and the airborne assault at Arnhem, and the Rhine Crossings, throughout all of which Johnnie also commanded Canadian wings. Here, then, we have The Great Adventure – ‘Greycap Leader’s’ previously unpublished last look back.

Sarker has done a very good job of turning Johnson’s partly completed text into a cohesive and useful book, which takes us right into the heart of these crucial air battles.

Read the full review here

History of War

I’ve looked forward to reading this book for a while now as I tend to think that we don’t celebrate our pilots or heroes as much as we should, after all if it wasn’t for these brave heroes we might not have won the war. I must admit to having already read/viewed a couple of mediums involving Johnnie Johnson before, so the subject wasn’t new to me. But this was certainly an excellent book to read, both entertaining and interesting. I enjoyed the flow of the book and the various parts of the life story of Johnnie Johnson. There has been a lot of thought and research that has gone into the book which I think shines through, from letters, documents and diaries. At the back of the book, credit must also go to the records and statistics and bibliography sections. This book has been a great book to read and one of the best I have read about this great man.

5 stars

Read the full review here

UK Historian
 Dilip Sarkar MBE

About Dilip Sarkar MBE

Driven by his passion to record and share the human experience of war, DILIP SARKAR is a best-selling and prolific author whose work is highly regarded globally. A noted expert on the Battle of Britain period, the Few and Spitfire stories, Dilip enjoyed a long and very personal relationship with many survivors. Made an MBE for ‘services to aviation history in 2003, he was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society in 2006. A sought after, dynamic, speaker both in person and, more recently, ‘virtually’, Dilip’s enthusiasm is infectious; he has exhibited internationally and spoken at innumerable prestigious venues. An experienced broadcaster and presenter, he continues to work on TV documentaries both on and off camera, and is a firm supporter of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust. See www.dilipsarkarauthor.com.


Dilip is Project Lead on Battle of Britain: The People's Project, a new project launched in July 2022 in partnership with Pen & Sword and the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, which aims to discover untold stories from the Battle of Britain as part of a comprehensive seven-volume history of the battle. Click to visit the project website.

Perfect Partner

Spitfire Ace of Aces: The Album The Photographs of Johnnie Johnson (Hardback)

Air Vice-Marshal James Edgar ‘Johnnie’ Johnson CB, CBE, DSO & Two Bars, DFC & Bar, DL was a character literally from the pages of Boys’ Own: an individual who became the RAF’s top-scoring fighter pilot of the Second World War. A one-time household name synonymous with the superlative Spitfire, Johnnie’s aerial combat successes inspired schoolboys for generations. As a ‘lowly Pilot Officer’, Johnnie Johnson learned his fighter pilot’s craft as a protégé of the legless Tangmere Wing Leader, Douglas Bader. After Bader was brought down over France and captured on 9 August 1941, Johnnie…

By Dilip Sarkar MBE

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