Stories of ‘the Few’ recorded in newly launched database
The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust has launched a comprehensive database offering academics, authors and researchers fresh opportunities to find detailed information on the Allied airmen who became known as the Few.
The database has been developed from the extensive research carried out over several decades by the late Kenneth G Wynn, who died in May 2020, and can be viewed electronically at the National Memorial to the Few at Capel-le-Ferne, Kent.
Richard Hunting CBE, Chairman of the Trust, explained: “The foundation of the database is the research carried over many years by Ken Wynn, whose iconic book, Men of the Battle of Britain, first appeared in 1989, with a supplementary volume in 1992.
“A second edition came out in 1999 and after the rights to the book were donated to the Trust in 2010, a third edition was published in 2015 and a supplementary volume in 2020.
“Publishing constraints meant that Ken Wynn concentrated on the service careers of his subjects. The Trust, though, has been able to widen the range of information included considerably so that the database that incorporates Men of the Battle of Britain now reflects social as well as military history, with more information and photographs being added on an almost daily basis.”
The work of updating the information has been led by Geoff Simpson, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a contributor to Men of the Battle of Britain over many years and now consulting editor to the database.
Geoff is keen to acknowledge the ongoing contribution made to the research by a number of people, including Edward McManus (who curates the website bbm.org.uk), Gerry Burke and genealogist Gladys Armstrong.
The Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne is home to the National Memorial to the Few. The database will be housed in its impressive, Spitfire wing-shaped visitor centre, The Wing.
Kenneth George William Wynn (pen name Kenneth G Wynn) was born in London in 1925. He served in the RAF, worked as a draughtsman and for a firm selling rare books in London. He moved to New Zealand in 1973 and became a naturalised citizen of that country in 1977. He lived there for the rest of his life, while making regular visits to the UK to pursue his research. He also wrote books on New Zealanders who flew in the Battle of Britain, U-boat operations in the Second World War and the charge of the Light Brigade in the 19th century Crimean War. He died in Auckland, New Zealand, aged 94, on 10 May 2020.