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Letters from the Few (Hardback)

Unique Memories from the Battle of Britain

WWII Aviation Battle of Britain

By Dilip Sarkar MBE
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 272
Illustrations: 50 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526775894
Published: 1st August 2020

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Fascinated by the Battle of Britain from an early age, as a young man Dilip Sarkar realised that recording and sharing the Few’s memories was of paramount importance. At the time, back in the mid-1980s, membership of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association was well populated and the then Honorary Secretary, the now late Wing Commander Pat Hancock DFC, OBE, supported Dilip’s research by forwarding letters to individual pilots of interest.

Those members of the Few included a wide-range of personalities, from famous airmen like Group Captain Peter Townsend and Air Marshal Sir Denis Crowley-Milling, to the ‘also rans’, as Battle of Britain Hurricane pilot Peter Fox famously described himself and peers. Indeed, it was Peter’s ‘also rans’ that were of the greatest interest to Dilip, who recognised that whilst many famous and distinguished pilots had either published personal memoirs or had biographies written about them, lesser-lights had no platform to record and share their experiences. This Dilip became dedicated to resolving.

For many years, Dilip enjoyed prolific correspondence with the Few. These letters – hundreds of them – now represent a unique primary source, confirming the incredibly close relationship the author enjoyed with his heroes and high esteem in which they likewise held him. Over the years, Dilip’s published work has enormously benefited from his unique knowledge of the people involved through this very personal association, the memories collated providing his books a real ‘human’ touch. As the Few sadly fade away, it is only now that the significance of Dilip’s correspondence, industry and archive arising are becoming truly apparent.

In Letters From The Few, Dilip shares with us, for the first time, a small selection of his correspondence with Battle of Britain fighter pilots, providing us an inspirational insight into the immeasurable value of this research and personalities involved.

The intimacy of this book came through so clearly in the pictures and personal letters from over 25 airmen who fought at the Battle of Britain. Glimpses from the letters provide the opportunity see the war from their viewpoint and Sarkar expounds upon already rich details. As a royal watcher, the letters and insights from Group Captain Peter Townsend (once connected to Princess Margaret) caught my attention. I was drawn to his input regarding the Spitfire and its contributions to the war as well.

NetGalley, Katie Barr

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is how history should be taught! The author brings the Battle of Britain alive through personal stories from pilots who flew the deadly WWII skies. As Prime Minister Churchill said of this ragtag crew, “Never in the history of mankind has so much been owed by so many to so few.”

There are 25+ featured flyers, including Group Captain Peter Townsend, known for his romance with Princess Margaret, and even one German pilot, who recalls fierce fights against Britain’s Royal Air Force. I’ve been forever thrilled by RAF history, even more so now that I’ve read LETTERS FROM THE FEW. Also features photos of pilot memorabilia that add vivid authenticity.

5 out of 5 Stars

NetGalley, Literary Soirée

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. 

Perfect Partner

Spitfire! The Full Story of a Unique Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron (Hardback)

As a child, Dilip Sarkar was fascinated by the haunting image of an anonymous RAF Spitfire pilot. Taken minutes after landing from a Battle of Britain combat, this was Squadron Leader Brian Lane DFC, the commander of 19 Squadron, based at Fowlmere – and author of the stirring first-hand account Spitfire! The Experiences of a Fighter Pilot, published under the pseudonym B.J. Ellan. Deeply moving was the discovery that in 1942 Brian was reported missing after a futile nuisance raid over the Dutch coast. During the mid-1980s, Dilip began researching the life and times of both Brian Lane and 19…

By Dilip Sarkar MBE

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