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.'
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’?
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