Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Battle of Britain

A book I had published by Scholastic in their My Story series a few years back - Battle of Britain - is being reissued with a new cover next month.

It tells the story of a fictional young pilot, his training, his first combats over Dunkirk (where my father, who was there, still swears he never saw a single RAF aircraft) and his exploits during the Battle of Britain itself.

For research I listened to lots of taped interviews with pilots, all of whom were brutally frank about the grim realities of combat and the fear they felt at facing the enemy. I sat in a Spitfire for a few moments, startled by the claustrophobia the tiny cockpit induced. And I read a lot of poignant letters and diaries, some of which ended with terrible abruptness.

I grew up in a revisionist age where the story of the Few seemed all myth, but I came away from the research realising that whilst the Battle of Britain may have been hyped for propaganda purposes, those (mostly very young) pilots were astonishingly brave and did, in no small way, change the course of the Second World War and therefore of all our lives. You don't have to think war is a good idea to acknowledge that.

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