Fascinated by the Battle of Britain from an eahrly age, as a young man Dilip Sarkar realised that recording and sharing the Few’s memories was of paramount importance. At the time, back in the mid-1980s, membership of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association was well populated and the then Honorary Secretary, the now late Wing Commander Pat Hancock DFC, OBE, supported Dilip’s research by forwarding letters to individual pilots of interest.
Those members of the Few included a wide-range of personalities, from famous airmen like Group Captain Peter Townsend and Air Marshal Sir Denis Crowley-Milling, to the ‘also rans’, as Battle of Britain Hurricane pilot Peter Fox famously described himself and peers. Indeed, it was Peter’s ‘also rans’ that were of the greatest interest to Dilip, who recognised that whilst many famous and distinguished pilots had either published personal memoirs or had biographies written about them, lesser-lights had no platform to record and share their experiences. This Dilip became dedicated to resolving.
For many years, Dilip enjoyed prolific correspondence with the Few. These letters – hundreds of them – now represent a unique primary source, confirming the incredibly close relationship the author enjoyed with his heroes and high esteem in which they likewise held him. Over the years, Dilip’s published work has enormously benefited from his unique knowledge of the people involved through this very personal association, the memories collated providing his books a real ‘human’ touch. As the Few sadly fade away, it is only now that the significance of Dilip’s correspondence, industry and archive arising are becoming truly apparent.
In Letters From The Few, Dilip shares with us, for the first time, a small selection of his correspondence with Battle of Britain fighter pilots, providing us an inspirational insight into the immeasurable value of this research and personalities involved.