- A Few of 'The Few' - signed by the author Australians and the Battle of Britain
Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT, 1990.
Quarto; hardcover, with silver-gilt spine and upper board titles and decorations; 291pp., with a monochrome photographic frontispiece and many illustrations likewise. Minor wear; signed in ink on the title page. Dustwrapper lightly rubbed (now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film). Very good to near fine When the 1.45 million pound ($3.5 million) Battle of Britain monument was unveiled in London it contained the names of the 2953 pilots who fought the German air force in the skies over southern England in 1940. These are the men so famously immortalised by Winston Churchill when he said: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". A few of The Few, as they became known, were Australian, and their names, too, are emblazoned in bronze alongside their comrades on Victoria Embankment. There are 33 Australians on the list, which also includes New Zealanders, Canadians, South Africans, Poles, Free French, Czechs and Belgians. The true total, however, is still a matter for conjecture. As historian Dennis Newton said in this 1990, 50th anniversary book, "A few of The Few - Australians and the Battle of Britain", original British assessments shortly after the war put the number at 21. This was upgraded to 25, and then to 29. In the introduction to his book, Newton explains that confusion about the exact numbers of The Few is to be expected: "In those days Australians travelled using a British passport and Australia was proudly part of the British Empire ... For most, to be Australian was to be British anyway. Sometimes ... British nationality was assumed". The complete list of pilots included on the new monument was being compiled by John Young of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association. Young, a former BoB wing commander, says his list of 33 Australians comes from the Australian War Memorial (AWM). Staff at the AWM, however, could only point back to Newton's book, which was published by the Memorial. Dr Peter Stanley, principal historian at the AWM, says: "If Dennis Newton reckons there were 37 Australians, and he's named them, then I would take his word for it. He knows what he's talking about". Dennis Newton, an aviation journalist, is the author of six books including "A Few of the Few", "Clash of Eagles", "Australian Air Aces" & "First Impact". He edited the Battle of Britain memoir of Gordon Olive, "Spitfire Ace", of which it was said: "Ever wonder what it was like to fly a Spitfire in the Battle of Britain? No account captures it quite so nerve-shreddingly as this new book". Dennis Newton lives in the Blue Mountains, in New South Wales.
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