Sunday 7 April 2019: University of Worcester
At this first event of 2019, Dilip provided two presentations, ‘I Knew the Few’, his superb, very personal, uniquely illustrated PowerPoint on some of the many Battle of Britain pilots he was privileged to know, and ‘The Blast of War’, a thought-provoking glimpse of his work on those still Missing in Action.
Special guest was Jim Nicolson, who gave an illustrated and inter-active session concerning his august uncle, Wing Commander James Brindles Nicolson VC DFC – Fighter Command’s only VC of the Second World War.
Saturday 6 July 2019: Bentley Priory Museum, Stanmore
On this remarkable day, Dilip launched his new book ‘Spitfire!’, a huge history of 19 Squadron 1938-41, firmly focussed on the human experience involved and made possible due to his close personal friendships with the survivors.
Again, Dilip provided two unique presentations, firstly on 19 Squadron, and secondly an all-new ‘I Knew the Few’ – which, owing to the number of the Few Dilip knew, is never the same twice.
Dilip was joined at the event by life-long friend and fellow author Andy Long, who gave a riveting presentation, profusely illustrated, on the Boulton Paul Defiant – the subject of his forthcoming book being published by Pen & Sword.
Sunday 4 August 2019: Imperial War Museum Duxford
It was a privilege to be invited by the IWM to present on the new 19 Squadron book on what was the 81st anniversary of 19 receiving the RAF’s first Spitfire.
Dilip’s uniquely illustrated presentation in the superb Marshall Learning Centre was well-attended and received, stimulating, as always, positive comment on social media.
This ‘Showcase’ day also featured superb flying displays by Spitfires, a Hurricane and other warbirds – and the previous day Dilip flew in an open-cockpit Tiger Moth biplane with Classic Wings, which he describes as ‘Awesome!’
Sunday 18 August 2019: Kent Battle of Britain Museum, Hawkinge
Appropriately, on the 79th anniversary of what Dlip’s friend and mentor the late Dr Alfred Price famously described as ‘The Hardest Day’, Dilip enjoyed spending the day signing and talking to visitors at the remarkable Kent Battle of Britain Museum – where the remains of over 700 aircraft destroyed in the Battle can be seen (amongst much else besides!).
Saturday 7 September 2019: ‘Meet the Author’, Imperial War Museum, London
Wednesday 18 September 2019: Arnhem 1944: The Human Tragedy of the Bridge Too Far Lecture, Airborne Museum Hartenstein, Oosterbeek
Dilip played made a significant contribution to the 75th anniversary of Operation MARKET-GARDEN, and was honoured to deliver a lecture at the Airborne Museum – General Urquhart’s HQ and a field hospital during the ill-fated airborne battle. The Director, Sarah Heijse, said ‘Dilip’s work provides a unique and deeply moving perspective, recording and telling the personal stories of casualties. His lecture was superbly delivered by an engaging speaker whose enthusiasm is infectious!’ The house was packed and the audience included notably dignitaries including Sophie Lambrechtsen-ter-ter Horst and Dr Robert Voskuil – who upon conclusion led a standing ovation!
Friday 20 September 2019: Opening of the exhibition Dilip Sarkar: The Human Tragedy of the Bridge Too Far at Airborne At The Bridge, Arnhem.
Dilip was honoured to be invited to exhibit at the Arnhem annex of the Airborne Museum, with its panoramic view of the world-famous bridge. The exhibition related the stories of those casualties in the book, including the personal artefacts of some, such as those of Private Albert Willingham who gave his life to save Dutch civilians and wounded comrades by jumping on a German grenade.
The exhibition was opened by Fred de Graaf, a former President of the Netherlands Senate, now Chairman of the Airborne Museum, Sophie Lambrechtsen-ter-ter Horst and Dr Robert Voskuil.
Present were the families and friends of eighteen of the fallen included in the book, who gathered for a unique photograph by Arnhem Bridge – clutching photographs of their ancestors, strangers as a collective but bound by the invisible bond of having lost a family member during the great airborne battle: –
Saturday 19 October 2019: Imperial War Museum, Duxford.
This was an extremely significant day. During the morning, Dilip presented his ‘Human Tragedy of the Bridge Too Far’ illustrated lecture, marking the 75th anniversary of Operation MARKET-GARDEN at Duxford. Amongst those attending were former Parachute Regiment Captain Chris Johnson, son of top-scoring RAF pilot Air Vice-Marshal Johnnie Johnson, and Dave Padfield, son of Arnhem veteran Harold Padfield, who kindly helped with the book.
During the afternoon, Dilip presented on Squadron Leader Brian Lane DFC, with various families of 19 Squadron Battle of Britain personnel in the audience, and presented Brian’s cigarette case to Craig Murray, Duxford’s Curator. The case came from Brian’s widow’s estate, Eileen having died prematurely during the 1970s, at which point ownership passed to Eileen’s post-war companion, Owen Fargus. In 1989, Owen sent Dilip the case to use in his work raising awareness of this inspirational young pilot’s story, ownership passing to Henry, Owen’s nephew, after Owen’s death. Having looked after the case for thirty years, with publication of ‘Spitfire!’ in June 2019, Dilip felt that the time had come to decide this unique artefact’s long-term future. Dilip and Henry were agreed that the item should go to Duxford, 19 Squadron’s spiritual home, and be gifted to the National Collection. Henry, who lives in France, was unable to attend the ceremony, which occurred after Dilip’s lecture. The case now has the same status as Nelson’s topcoat worn at Trafalgar and will be displayed to the public in the Duxford Operations Room, being refurbished during the winter of 2019/20, ready to re-open for the 80th anniversary season. Consequently, this incredibly personal artefact – the only physical item connected with Brian’s short life other than his log books known to survive – will be preserved forever and shared with countless people.
Sunday 27 October 2019: Malvern Military History Festival
Dilip was delighted to join an impressive line-up of keynote speakers at the three-day Festival organised by Enlightenment Events and held at Malvern College. Having presented a variation of ‘I Knew The Few’, which is never the same twice, one Conference deleted tweeted that that this was the ‘best’ of a ‘top day’. Hopefully the Festival will become an annual event.
This event concludes Dilip’s speaking commitments for 2019.
Unfortunately the pandemic dictated that all the brilliant events planned to mark the Battle of Britain’s 80th anniversary in 2020 had to be cancelled.
Responsibly, until social distancing restrictions are definitely, completely, lifted, Dilip will not be committing to any future events. Once that milestone is reached, however – watch this space!