A new ‘Bible’ launched by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust this summer is helping with high-level decision making within the RAF.
Men of the Battle of Britain by Kenneth G Wynn gives biographical details of the Allied airmen who are known as ‘the Few’ because they qualified for the 1939-1945 Star with Battle of Britain Clasp. Those men are the inspiration behind the National Memorial to the Few at Capel-le-Ferne.
The qualifications for the clasp are strict, and because records from those times are incomplete, the true number of Battle of Britain veterans will probably never be known, but the third edition of the book, published last month after extensive research by our own Trustees, is the most definitive yet.
Earlier this week Group Captain Patrick Tootal, secretary of the Trust, presented a copy of the book – affectionately known as ‘Wynn 3’ – to Wing Commander Paul Crook, the Head of RAF Ceremonial at RAF Northolt, who is pictured below with some of his staff.
The Trust acquired the rights to the book, first published in 1989, a number of years ago, following which a team of researchers led by historian and Trustee Geoff Simpson has spent thousands of hours expanding and updating the manuscript.
The resulting third edition was published in July as the commemorations around the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain began.
“The Ceremonial Office has been using ‘Men of the Battle’ for many years to check the bona fides of enquiries about veterans from relatives,” said Patrick. “They have found it invaluable and are most grateful they can now refer to Wynn 3.”
Although the book is the most comprehensive source of factual information about the men who flew in the 1940 conflict, it also contains many fascinating insights into their lives and stories of their courage and sacrifice.
“The new edition highlights the fact that some of the men who flew in the Battle of Britain have never been properly identified – and perhaps never will be,” explained Geoff Simpson.
“Seventy-five years after RAF Fighter Command defeated the Luftwaffe and prevented an invasion, new combatants have been uncovered, but in some cases there is no record even of the crew member’s first name, let alone what happened to him.
“As an example, the logbook of Flight Sergeant John Lingard, a Bristol Blenheim pilot with the RAF’s No 25 Squadron, records that he flew a convoy patrol on 13 July 1940 with ‘Sergeant Harris’ in his crew. He would clearly have qualified for the Battle of Britain Clasp, but nothing more is known of Sergeant Harris.”
Men of the Battle of Britain by Kenneth G Wynn is published by Frontline Books in association with Battle of Britain Memorial Trust
Hardback. 616 pages