The book records the service details of the airmen who took part in the Battle of Britain in considerable detail. Where known, postings and their dates are included, as well as promotions, decorations and successes claimed flying against the enemy. There is also much personal detail, often including dates and places of birth, civilian occupations, dates of death and place of burial or, for those with no known grave, place of commemoration. There are many wartime head-and-shoulders photographs. Inevitably the high achievers who survived tend to have the longest entries, but those who were killed very quickly, sometimes even on their first sortie, are given equal status.
This the third edition includes new names and corrected spellings, as well as many new photographs. Plenty of the entries have been extended with freshly acquired information. The stated nationalities of some of the airmen have been re-examined and, for example, one man always considered to be Australian is now known to have been Irish.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust is behind this new edition that includes recently discovered photos, new aircrew entries and additional information for the original men listed. Almost 3,000 aircrew (pilots, air gunners and observers) are listed. All of this is contained within a large format and more than 600 pages.
Reading the book is like catching up with old friends. There are many familiar names, but it is those they share the page with that Wynn’s work is at its most important.
The layout is straightforward. The listings are alphabetical with full names, service number, nationality and postings during the Battle. Each entry is at least fifty words long and most include a photo. A short photo appendix appears to indicate image research is on-going.
The writing is of high quality despite its brevity and, being a ‘Biographical Directory’, the men’s pre-war and post-battle lives are detailed well. It is fascinating to read of an airman’s actions during the Battle and then hope he survived the war.