I had the good fortune to be invited to a celebration of the Battle of Britain the other night. Three hours chatting to local noteworthies in ‘Lounge Wear’ and my only pair of black shoes, which have four inch heels, was a tad uncomfortable (read: my feet are still killing me now) but it was worth it for a spectacular display by the Red Arrows. I get invited to all the happening parties. (read: I was a plus one…)
I’ve seen the Red Arrows in action before at the Farnborough Air Show, but this was a really up close and personal display – they flew right over our heads, just above the hanger we were standing in front of.
They did loads of incredible stunts. Unfortunately I only had my other half’s camera phone to take pictures with, and often they flew past too fast and all I caught was the colourful smoke they left behind!
After nibbles and drinks, we were invited back outside to watch a spitfire display. Only they didn’t tell us it was starting and I very elegantly jumped out of my skin when it blasted overhead. Classy. I’m glad I wasn’t holding a drink.
While this Spitfire didn’t do some of the insane ‘we’ll fly really really close to each other and make it look like we’re going to crash’ stunts that the Red Arrows did, it was still a magnificent perfomance. It’s incredible really – the plane is 70 years old, and still going, still operable. There are very few cars that are 70 years old that I’d drive, and they don’t go in the air and loop the loop. It really is a testament to the incredible craftsmanship that ultimately won us the Battle of Britain.
A Brief History Lesson
The Battle of Britain was considered a crucial victory and a turning point in World War 2. Had it been lost, the world would likely be a very different place today. Hundreds of planes and pilots battled above Britain, but though the Luftwaffe had superior numbers and pilots with more experience, the RAF had the advantage of home territory and superior planes an by the end of October 1940, some months after the campaign to take Britain began, Hitler postponed his plans to invade Britain. The skies over Britain were defended.
Books on the Battle
Such epic events, though tragic and horrific, do inspire some great literature. I had a peruse on the internet looking for some good fiction books, but found it quite tricky to find anything. There are some good lists on Amazon for Non-Fiction books on the Battle of Britain, and after a bit of digging I found a list of fiction about World War Two. It surprises me how small this list is. I thought there would be loads, but then, almost all of the war books I can think of are set during the First World War.
I’m going to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak next. It’s been on my TBR pile for about three years, and I’ve never quite got round to picking it up. It seems fitting though, to read it now on the anniversary of such a momentus event.
Do you know any great fiction books set around the Second World War?