Spitfire Down

Fighter Boys Who Failed to Return

Dilip Sarkar MBE

Profoundly moved by the stories of wartime casualties as a child, Dilip Sarkar has since spent a lifetime reconstructing the lives of many of the fallen and is passionate about recording and sharing this very personal hidden history. In this book he explores the stories of 13 pilots who failed to return either in action or flying accidents.
Date Published :
October 2022
Publisher :
Air World
Language:
English
Illustration :
75+ mono integrated
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781399089470
Pages : 272
Dimensions : 9.1 X 6.1 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order
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$49.95

Overview
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Profoundly moved by the stories of wartime casualties as a child, Dilip Sarkar has since spent a lifetime reconstructing the lives of many of the fallen and is passionate about recording and sharing this very personal hidden history. In Spitfire Down he explores the stories of thirteen pilots who failed to return, all killed, either in action or flying accidents, while a fourteenth, Flying Officer Buck Casson, was brought down by a German ace over France and captured.

There is, for example, the virtually unknown story of ‘The Baby of the RAF’, Sergeant Geoffrey Painting. Posted to fly Spitfires with 118 Squadron at RAF Ibsley in Hampshire, Painting was hit by flak during an attack on enemy shipping off Cherbourg on 30 September 1941. Still listed as missing, at just 17, he is believed to have been the youngest RAF pilot killed during the Second World War. The author has reconstructed Painting’s short life with help from his family, and forensically deconstructed that last flight with the help of the now late Wing Commander Peter Howard-Williams DFC, who was flying with the teenage pilot that day.

The author also explores the heart-rending story of an American trainee fighter pilot, Pilot Officer ‘Jim Bob’ Lee, whose Spitfire collided with a Wellington bomber over Gloucestershire – resulting in the loss of all airmen involved. Two Canadian pilots perished on Pen-y-Fan, the highest peak in South Wales. The multi-national effort that defeated Hitler is further emphasized, in fact, through the stories of both Wing Commander Piotr Laguna and Flying Officer Franek Surma. But perhaps most tragic of all is how lightning struck Joan Welch twice: her first fiancée, Flight Lieutenant Lester Sanders DFC, was killed test-flying Spitfires in 1942, and her second, Pilot Officer Ian Smith, was killed flying in Palestine in 1945.

Using correspondence, diaries and other personal papers of the pilots concerned, the author has reconstructed their all-too brief lives and provided a lasting and profusely illustrated record of these sacrifices.

About The Author
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A prolific author, DILIP SARKAR has been obsessed with the Second World War for a lifetime. An MBE for ‘services to aviation history’, and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, unsurprisingly, for a retired police detective with a First in Modern History, his work has always been evidence-based - often challenging long-accepted myths. Firmly focussed on the ‘human’ experience of war, his many previous works include the authorized biographies of Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader and Air Vice-Marshal ‘Johnnie’ Johnson, the best-selling Spitfire Manual and The Few. Dilip has presented at such prestigious venues as Oxford University, the Imperial War and RAF Museums, and National Memorial Arboretum; he works on TV documentaries, both on and off screen.

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