A rather interesting book came across my desk:
I started reading rather reluctantly because, over the years, the Battle of Britain has almost been “written to death”. Many authors have glorified it; others have tried to “debunk the myths”. I soon found that this book definitely fills a gap. It offers a wider and more balanced view and, what struck me most, it is aimed at the generation(s) that did not get the tales about this epic conflict handed down by their parents and grandparents. Mitch Peeke gives an excellent historical background and explains in detail why – in his view – the Battle for France and the Battle of England are Act One and Act Two of the same drama. Or, as he puts it: because of the Battle of France and the Dunkirk evacuation, Britain was not knocked out, so there had to be a Battle of Britain.
The book is heavily based on eyewitness accounts, many from members of his own family, and this guarantees a nice amount of interesting and amusing anecdotes. Thanks to this, Peeke was able to go wider afield and not only describes the aviation side but also from the perspective of the emergency services, AA gunners and a publican. The book is full of “Couleur Locale” , not surprisingly since Peeke’s family lived in Kent during those hectic days.
Peeke provides an almost day-by- day account of what happened during that crucial summer and fall of 1940. Peeke hits all the high spots: the over-optimistic German assumptions, the masterly defence strategy laid down by Dowding and Park, the infamous machinations of Leigh-Mallory (and Bader) and the cruel fact that the architects of Britain’s fighter defence were sent off ignominiously and never received official recognition for stopping the Luftwaffe.
I recommend this book highly to those readers who want to know more about the real facts of the Battle of Britain