DATABASE OF THE FEW
The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust database is a remarkable and constantly expanding research resource held at the National Memorial to the Few.
It contains biographical information on every one of the almost 3,000 Allied aircrew known to have qualified for the “immediate” award of the 1939-1945 Star with Battle of Britain Clasp – known as ‘the Few’.
In more and more cases, information on social and educational backgrounds and civilian jobs is being added to the details of service careers. Often reference is also made to relatives who served in the forces or performed wartime civilian roles.
At the heart of the database is the material compiled by Kenneth G Wynn for his definitive work of reference, Men of the Battle of Britain. All the rights to the book were acquired in 2010, and donated to the Memorial Trust, by an anonymous well-wisher.
The first edition of Men of the Battle of Britain appeared to instant acclaim in 1989. A supplementary volume appeared in 1992. In 1999 the second edition was published. Under the auspices of the Memorial Trust, Frontline Books brought out the third edition in 2015 and a further supplementary volume was released in 2020.
Ken Wynn’s work benefited from the assistance of many of the Few and their families, as well as from contributions from the late Bruce Burton and other researchers.
A similar situation exists today. Geoff Simpson, FRHistS acts as consulting editor for the database. He and the Trust acknowledge the continuing contributions of relatives of the aircrew, of Edward McManus (who curates the website bbm.org.uk), Gerry Burke, Gladys Armstrong (genealogist) and many others interested in the events of 1940.
KENNETH G WYNN
28/6/1925 - 10/5/2020
Kenneth George William Wynn was born in London on 28 June 1925. For much of his early life he lived in Southall, Middlesex. He joined the RAF during the Second World War and was sent for aircrew training in South Africa. However, the war ended before he had the chance to fly operationally and he was released, having reached the rank of Sergeant. He then worked as a draughtsman and for a seller of rare books in London, where he specialised in military titles.
Ken Wynn moved to New Zealand in 1973, becoming a naturalised citizen four years later. He worked as a draughtsman again and lived for many years in Auckland in the country’s North Island. In England he had had three daughters with his first wife. His second wife, known professionally as Anah Dunsheath, is an artist, sculptor and bookseller.
Frequently Ken came back to the UK in September to attend the Battle of Britain service of Thanksgiving and Rededication in Westminster Abbey as well as other events. He would tour the country meeting veterans and fellow researchers.
In addition to Men of the Battle of Britain, Ken wrote A Clasp for the Few, self published in 1981, which told the stories of New Zealanders who flew in the Battle of Britain. He also produced volumes on U-boat operations in the Second World War and the charge of the Light Brigade.
Ken Wynn died in Auckland on 10 May 2020, aged 94.
The late Kenneth G Wynn, with copies of the third edition of Men of the Battle of Britain, at a launch event at Hatchards bookshop, Piccadilly London, on 18 September 2015.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
The Trust is always on the lookout for additional information and photographs on the men who came to be known as the Few. A recent step forward has been the donation to the Trust of the archive of Dr Mark Whitnall, who has made a particular study of Battle of Britain aircrew with Nottinghamshire associations.
If you have material you would like to share with us, please contact:
Geoff Simpson FRHistS by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
RESEARCHING THE FEW?
The database, held in The Wing at the Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne, is available to academics, authors and researchers, studying the Battle of Britain. To place an enquiry or arrange a visit please contact the site by emailing email@example.com
At the Hatchards event in 2015 Ken Wynn (centre) was joined by four of the few. From left to right, they are: Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum DFC, Squadron Leader Tony Pickering, Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM and Flying Officer Ken Wilkinson. All have since sadly left us.
Personnel of No 602 Squadron, 1940