A Battle of Britain Spitfire Squadron...


...the Men and Machines of 152 Squadron in the Summer of 1940, from Pen and Sword



Title: A Battle of Britain Spitfire Squadron

Author: Danny Burt

Publisher: Pen and Sword

ISBN: 978-1-47389-996-4

For WW2 aviation historians I think the name Spitfire and the subject of the Battle of Britain will always attract lots of interest.  This book from author Danny Burt and publisher Pen & Sword hits the mark on both of these.

The book starts with background to the squadron title of 152 (Hyderabad) Squadron. It came from the Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, who ruled his region of India from 1911 to 1948. An extremely wealthy man, he had given money to equip a full squadron of aircraft for the RAF in WW1 and he did so again in WW2, paying to equip a full Spitfire squadron. It goes on to provide the background to the formation of the unit, and their move to RAF Warmwell, an airfield defending the area of the naval base at Portland, and was quite close to the site of the RAC Centre at Bovington. It goes on to complete the first part of the book with the Squadron Operations Records Book, covering the period from July to October 1940, a transcript of the original document.

Then we get to part 2, the largest element of the book, where it tells the stories of all the individual pilots who flew for the squadron during the Battle of Britain. I felt it was notable for telling the stories of all the pilots of the squadron, not just focussing on personalities. Each one gives us the background to the men, their lives, their families and their careers.  Some of course were cut short, either during the Battle itself, or later in the war.  Other lived on long after WW2. Archive photos are included throughout the book, not just of the aircraft but of the men themselves, bringing that individual human touch to each of their stories where a picture is available. Rounding things off are 7 Appendices, giving details of Pilot Officer Pooch, the dog that was the squadron mascot; Squadron Ground Crew; Combat Claims; Spitfire Is used by 152 Sq; and Rolls of Honour for those pilots lost both during the Battle and those later in the war.

An interesting way of presenting the story, especially for the individual pilots, a format I can't recall seeing before. A good reminder that war is the story of the people directly involved.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.