The Few


Seventy years ago, in the blue skies of a late English summer, history’s first great air battle was fought. Those whom Winston Churchill called ‘The Few’, thwarted Hitler’s preparation for an invasion of Britain.


While it was happening, not many people thought of it as ‘The Battle of Britain’. Churchill had used the phrase but once publicly, in his reference to the fall of France.

The average fighter pilot defending Britain in that summer of 1940 was a bit more than 20 years of age. He was unmarried, had not quite completed his formal education and had an exceptionally keen interest in fast cars and aeroplanes.

He had joined the R.A.F. less than ten months prior to being posted to his operational squadron, and had less than 20 flying hours on the Hurricane or Spitfire types he would fly in that ‘period of rather intense activity’ later to be known as The Battle of Britain.

The fight was played out in a dramatic 15-week series of aerial combats, many of which happened directly above towns and villages. Such events have too often been re-told far larger than life. The Few, through its visual images and compelling recollections from Allied pilots, Luftwaffe pilots, ground crew and civilians, paints a true picture of the Battle, and of the Blitz, in human terms and exactly life-size.

In a journey to the airfields and other locales, the book takes its reader back to wartime England through the memories of people who recall what it was like to be there and through vintage photos from scrapbooks and other private collections. The Few also features over 100 colour photographers made in recent years that show locations which played a vital role in the Battle, as they are today. Many of them are little changed.


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