Last of the Few

The Battle of Britain in the words of the pilots who won it

Hurricane Mk1 at the Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford, Gloucestershire, England, 2008. (Adrian Pingstone)

Flight Lieutenant Peter Brothers: 32 Squadron

It was quite impressive, meeting this black cloud of [German] aircraft, all piled up [ahead of us] like—as somebody described it—“the moving staircase at Piccadilly Circus.” They would be up in their hundreds, with the bottom squadron leading. They’d be stacked up behind, as well, with the fighters sitting up on top. One thing I remember from those early heavy raids was the density of the rear-gunners’ fire. They’d put up a sort of barrage that you had to go through if you wanted to get in close—to about fifty or a hundred yards—which was vital. The aim was to get that rear-gunner out of the way. There was nothing you could do to avoid it—you’d collect a few holes and just hope for the best.

Pictured: Pilots and gunners of 264 Squadron pass the time with a game of draughts.


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