The Full Story of a Unique Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron
As seen in the Daily Mail, April 2019: 'Lives of The Few: Rare photos show the gaunt faces and bullet-holed Spitfires of the heroic RAF Battle of Britain pilots who saw off Hitler's Luftwaffe.'
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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 Squadron, forging close friendships with many of the unit’s surviving Battle of Britain pilots and support staff. This enabled identification of the wartime censor’s blanks regarding people and places in Brian’s book, and the publication in 1990 of Dilip’s first ever book, Spitfire Squadron: 19 Squadron at War 1939-41.
Nearly thirty years later, sadly all of the survivors are now deceased, but Dilip’s close relationship has provided a huge archive of correspondence and interviews in addition to a unique photographic collection. Furthermore, the author, a retired police detective, has thoroughly investigated the life – and death – of Squadron Leader Lane.
This completely new book, Spitfire!, covers everything we would ever need to know about such a unit during the critical pre and early war period: the social, political, aviation and military history all in one volume – emphasising the human experience involved and the stories of casualties. With an immense photographic collection – many published here for the first time – this book is destined to become a classic.
So, strap yourself in, turn gun button to ‘fire’, and join 19 Squadron’s Spitfire pilots during our Darkest and Finest Hours … the ultimate ‘Band of Brothers’?
A highly readable and detailed history of the RAF in WWII and in particular Squadron Leader Brian Lane DFC, 19 Squadron and Duxford. The book is full of quotes from the time all interweaved with the authors brilliant commentary and detail. Dilip’s research which, for this book, was triggered from seeing a picture of 3 Spitfire pilots (on the book cover) when he was a child, is simply outstanding.Vintage Airfix
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A really excellent, detailed, comprehensive and moving history of 19 Squadron, RAF during the Second World War. It begins pre-war with their delivery of the early Spitfires (the first operational RAF squadron to get them) but follows them throughout their service during Dunkirk, and the Battle of Britain and after. 19 Squadron was based at Duxford, as part of 12 Group, and the book doesn't shy away from the controversy over the "Big Wing" concept, and the friction with 11 Group defending Kent and the south east. It also doesn't shrink from criticising Douglas Bader and his somewhat personal attitude towards fighter combat, diverging from that of his more senior officers.Clash of Steel
The book sets the leadership of Sqn Ldr Brian Lane front and centre of the account, and you come away with a good impression of what it might have been like to have been led by him into battle. I recently took a trip to the IWM at Duxford and was able to walk around some of the aircraft, hangars, ops room and other buildings that would have been familiar to Sqn Ldr Lane and his colleagues. It was very moving, and much of that was thanks to this book.
Very much recommended.
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The book is the result of extensive research with first-hand accounts and official reports from the people who took part in the Battle, with plenty of details about the preparation for the war, the evolution of the tactics, the dogfights, the problems of the first Spitfires and how they were solved. Definitely a must read for any WW2 aviation fan.The Aviationist
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An interesting book full of first-hand information.Miniaturas JM
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First-class unit history. 10/10The Great War Magazine, November 2019
It's a fitting and fully rounded story of a Spitfire squadron during the darkest, and, ultimately, finest hours.The Armourer, November 2019
Researched from the 1980s, this is the most thorough book about any squadron in RAF service during the Battle of Britain. This research captured the thoughts and experiences of the pilots who are now all dead. It is an impeccable source of information and a gripping story – Most Highly Recommended.Firetrench
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This completely new book, Spitfire!, covers everything we would ever need to know about such a unit during the critical pre and early war period.Scale Modelling Now
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Yet again Dilip Sarkar delivers. His writing style is joyous and free flowing. An author who gives you history and the facts without sending you to sleep. Mr Sarkar writes the sort of book that once you pick it up, you will not want to put it down. Well done!Amazon Customer, David Baverstock
Anoher superb volume from this prolific author. A most enjoyable and interesting read. I have all his books (many signed by the author and or BOB pilots) and this is the best yet! Well done Dilip.Amazon Customer
A book all battle of Britain scholars should have on their shelf.Amazon Customer, Richard Domoney-Saunders
This book is easy to read and pact full of information, I highly recommend this to all.
... we give Spitfire! a healthy recommendation.Britain at War, October 2019
Promotion for author Kent BoB event as featured byIsle of Thanet Gazette (9th & 16th August 2019)/Dover Express (8th & 15th August 2019)
Dilip Sarkar comes across a kind man who enjoys an enduring affection and connection with the men and women of Fighter Command.Review by Mark Barnes for War History Online
His book is a fine monument to No19 Squadron – it’s pilots, technicians and administrators. The reality is however many Battle of Britain books that come along in the year ahead, some, like this one will stand out. Highly recommended.
Publicity for author's Bentley Priory Museum event as featured byOptima, 22nd June 2019
As featured inRAF News 23/8/19
Featured inRAF News, August 2019
Dilip Sarkar now turns his atttention to the Spitfire, Britain's most iconic warplane, and the one that most commentators believe was most intrumental in helping Britain to achieve air superiority during the Battle of Britain. Superbly told.Books Monthly
"This is an admirable book with high production values with the author getting into the spirit and culture of the squadron and the RAF at this crucial time."Robert Bartlett
'Renowned historian to launch new book at museum'My Radlett & Shenley News, July 2019
Featured "On The Bookshelf" by Neil Smith forWargames Illustrated, June 2019
Life among The Few: Rare photos show the gaunt faces and bullet-holed Spitfires of the heroic RAF Battle of Britain pilots who saw off Hitler's LuftwaffeMail Online
Researched over many years with the full co-operation of 19 Squadron's surviving pilots, support staff and the relatives of casualties, this 'highly detailed but readable' book covers the aviation, military, social and political aspects of the famous unit.The Bookseller 8/3/19
Released in 1969, the film Battle of Britain went on to become one of the most iconic war movies ever produced. The film drew many respected British actors to accept roles as key figures of the battle, including Sir Laurence Olivier as Hugh Dowding and Trevor Howard as Keith Park. It also starred Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer and Robert Shaw as squadron leaders. As well as its large all-star international cast, the film was notable for its spectacular flying sequences which were on a far grander scale than anything that had been seen on film before. At the time of its release, Battle of Britain…By Robert J Rudhall, Dilip Sarkar MBE
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