The quality of first-hand accounts left by the Battle of Britain fighter pilots is astonishing. Many were written in the midst of the epic air battle - a hastily jotted-down diary, letters written to young wives, a contemporary interview with a journalist or a radio broadcast, and, most poignant of all, the short books that were written to wile away the weeks stuck in a hospital bed while recovering from wounds received in battle. Some were written up in the cold light of day later in the war or just after, but they all share one feature - they were written before 'the Few' truly became etched in the mindset of the British people. The fighter pilots' modesty shines through. Battle of Britain histories often integrate gobbets of testimony from pilots, but this is the first book to collect substantial accounts to give a true idea of the exhilaration of being in a dogfight with a swarm of Messerschmitt 109s, the harrowing experience of being trapped in a burning cockpit and the mental stress of day after day of the maelstrom of air fighting.
Far better than any single narrative, the 'voices' build up a complete picture of the Battle of Britain as it was experienced by the men who took part in it. Illustrated with over 100 contemporary photographs, forty in colour.
Jonathan Reeve studied History at the University of Liverpool. He has been a history book publisher for the last 15 years and has been responsible for bringing back into print several forgotten memoirs written by Battle of Britain fighter pilots including the bestselling Gun Button To Fire by Tom Neil, DFC. Married with four children, he lives in Bath in a converted bomb-proof ARP centre built in 1943 as a response to Hitler's Baedeker Raids.