The Battle of Britain - The Few

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On the 21st October 1969, a Roll of Honour to commemorate "The Few" was presented by me to the Director of the Imperial War Museum, Dr. Noble Frankand. The Roll contains the full service particulars of the 2,944 pilots and aircrew constituting "The Few" giving their:-

Rank (1940)
Pilot or aircrew
Squadrons flown with during the battle

On the pages opposite their names are the signatures of 2,500 of them and where a signature has not yet been obtained, a space is provided for its insertion should the signature become available from any source.

On the inside of the front cover is a reproduction of Sir Winston Churchill's famous quotation immortalising "The Few" signed by Sir Winston, and on the page opposite is the signature of Lord Dowding, affectionately known as the "Father of the Few".

The order of battle of Fighter Command in 1940 with the names of the principals of each Group associated with the Battle of Britain is shown in the collection, together with their respective aircraft.

Appearing also is a summary of all the nationalities who took part in the battle showing the number of pilots and aircrew engaged and numbers killed, those killed being marked with an asterisk, thus *

On the inside of the back cover are paintings of the Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft with the signatures of their respective designers - R.J. Mitchell and Sir Sidney Camm, and these complement the signatures of Sir Winston Churchill and those of "The Few", the whole Roll of Honour being a fairly comprehensive record of a truly historic occasion.

The material is housed in a handsome leather-bound, double-fronted cover, on the face of which are engraved, on the left The Battle of Britain and on the right, The Few:-


Draped down the centre of the Roll of Honour and secured into the cover binding is the Battle of Britain tie, worn exclusively by "The Few". The tie is surmounted by the 1939-45 medal ribbon bearing the gold rosette. This Battle of Britain tie is one of the most coveted ties in existence. If the names of those applying for this tie do not appear in my list of "The Few", there is not a chance of the tie being issued by Gieves & Hawkes Ltd., under any circumstances.

Looking back, I am reminded of the co-operation of the surviving pilots and aircrew when I asked them to add their signatures to this Roll of Honour, and of the many incidents which occurred during the research. I remember the hundreds of letters, exchanged between myself and the next-of-kin of those who were killed, and the mention by them of how grateful they were that someone had remembered and cared enough to record for posterity, the names of those they lost.

Today, perhaps not many of the free peoples of the world care to remember that the freedom they enjoy from Nazi world domination and tyranny, they owe to the success of World War 2, particularly in the first instance, in the ability of "The Few" to defeat the German Luftwaffe in the air during the Battle of Britain.

Be that as it may, if my work has nurtured a sense of pride, so richly deserved, in "The Few" and their relatives, then I feel that what I have achieved over the past 25 years has been, in some small way, worthwhile.

After all, it was little enough to do, for those who did so much.

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