The story of a group of 57 naval airmen who played their part in the Battle of Britain but who missed out on the credit they deserved has now been told.
Paul Beaver’s new book, Forgotten Few, sets the record straight by telling the tale of the 57 members of ‘the Few’ through their individual biographies.
Some of the pilots flew in Fighter Command squadrons while others served in naval squadrons defending the Scapa Flow anchorage in Scotland, but as the author explains, the naval aircrew were somehow left out of the official accounts for more than 20 years and were “completely side-lined in the popular memory of the Battle of Britain”.
The book tells of how the aircrew were forgotten and brings the often-short lives of the 57 into focus. Paul adds: “I found their stories compelling. Take 23-year-old Dickie Cork for example. He was so rated by Royal Air Force legend Douglas Bader that he wanted Cork as his wingman. He was right to do so, as Cork became an ace within days.”
Forgotten Few draws on private letters from the airmen, previously untapped primary sources and contemporary accounts of air combat. He describes the fighters used by 804 Naval Air Squadron, the ungainly, slow Sea Gladiator biplane, and records one of the fruitless but hair-raising sorties chasing after a Luftwaffe ‘bogey’.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust helped the author in his research, and Paul also had support from two leading specialist historians, Geoff Simpson and Matt Wills.
The book, published in early April by Beaver Westminster at £9.95, will be available in our shop in The Wing in due course. The author has been writing about aviation and naval affairs for 40 years.