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That Eternal Summer

By Ralph Barker

In the balmy summer of 1940, Britain’s most critical battle of the Second World War was fought out over the fields and towns of southern England.

In this book, Ralph Barker unearths twelve little known but unforgettable stories of men whose names may be unfamiliar but without whose selfless tenacity, Britain would not have survived. The restoration of squadron morale after the debacle in France, the misunderstanding of the RAF’s role at Dunkirk, the harnessing of the ‘ace’ mentality to the attritional contest – all these are recounted, together with the inside story, related here for the first time.

The award of Fighter Command’s only VC; of the ‘mad Irishman’ who knocked down his adversary with his wing tip in mid-air; of the fight to the death over Hyde Park Corner which stopped London’s traffic; and of the poignant tragedy of the nineteen-year-olds who sold their lives dearly when thrown in at crisis point with scant preparation to plug ever-widening gaps. The bomber crews, too, are not forgotten, their losses being even greater than those of the fighter pilots; nor are those left behind to mourn, like ‘Bunny’ Lawrence, who lost both of his brothers within twenty-four hours at the climax of the Battle.

In this unusual and moving book, Ralph Barker has written a worthy and exhilarating tribute to the indomitable few.

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