Six Weeks of Blenheim Summer
‘DESERVES TO JOIN REACH FOR THE SKY AND THE LAST ENEMY AS ONE OF THE GREAT RAF BOOKS OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR’ – ANDREW ROBERTS
As I write, I can clearly recall the stinging heat of aburning Blenheim, smells, tastes, expressions, sounds of voices and, most ofall, fear gripping deep in me.
Flying Officer Alastair Panton was just twenty-three when his squadron deployed across the Channel in the defence of France. They were desparate days.
Pushed back to the beaches as the German blitzkrieg rolled through the Low Countries and into France, by June 4th 1940 the evacuation ofthe Allies from Dunkirk was complete. A little over two weeks later France surrendered.
Flying vital, dangerous, low-level missions throughout the campaign in support of the troops on the ground, Panton’s beloved but unarmed Bristol Blenheim was easy meat for the marauding Messerschmitts. At the height of fighting he was losing two of his small squadron’s crews to the enemy every day.
Discovered in a box by his grandchildren after his death in 2002, Alastair Panton’s Six Weeks of Blenheim Summer is a lostclassic. One of the most moving, vivid and powerful accounts of war inthe air ever written. And an unforgettable testament to the courage, stoicism, camaraderie and humanity of Britain’s greatest generation.
‘ONE CAN’T HELP FEELING AWE AND REVERENCE. THERE ARE ENOUGH ADVENTURES HERE FOR A LIFETIME’
LOUIS DE BERNIERES
‘SIMPLY WONDERFUL. ONE OF THE BEST ACCOUNTS OF WWII I HAVE EVER READ’
What comes over is the extraordinary life of these airmen, who were living in care-free comfort one moment and dying horrible deaths only a few minutes later * SHROPSHIRE STAR * Extraordinary ... The clarity of this book is as surprising as its humanity ... both great drama and poignant social commentary ... His story deserves to be told * THE TIMES * This story grips you by the lapels and sometimes by the throat, and all who love tales of war will devour every page -- MATTHEW PARRIS An amazing story of bravery and courage in the air and on the ground -- GENERAL THE LORD DANNATT One can't help feeling awe and reverence. There are enough adventures here for a lifetime, let alone six weeks -- LOUIS DE BERNIERES It is the best account of the chaos and confusion of war outside the pages of Evelyn Waugh -- BORIS JOHNSON The soldiers on the Dunkirk beaches who jeered the RAF for not making their presence felt in the skies above them would have cheered if they had read this stirring vivid account of the torment suffered by one of Britain's most heroic pilots during the battle for France in May to June 1940. -- HUGH SEBAG-MONTEFIORE Simply wonderful. One of the best accounts of WWII that I have ever read -- JOHN NICHOL A hidden gem of a diary on a little known episode of the Second World War. It speaks to everyone with its drama, pathos, humour and above all, compassion. It should be read by every history student -- PAUL BEAVER, author of SPITFIRE PEOPLE This is a gem of a memoir. An RAF pilot of rare tenacity and courage, Alistair Panton writes vividly but artlessly and with no hint of bravado about the grimly chaotic weeks of Dunkirk when he and his crew brushed with death in the sky most every day. His front-line story - humane, modest, and compassionate - inspires admiration to the point of awe -- JONATHAN DIMBLEBY This is a wonderfully vivid account of those forgotten heroes of 1940. It deserves to become one of the great aerial memoirs of the Second World War. It's an absolutely brilliant book -- JAMES HOLLAND This totally gripping account of the air war of May and June 1940 was written by one of the bravest of "The Few". Its short pages encompass all the timeless themes of war: comradeship, sacrifice, patriotism, fear, and sheer, raw courage. Panton's engaging and immediate prose style recalls the Battle of France in all its pity and tragedy, with his Mark IV Blenheim bomber as much a character in the story as any of his comrades. This deserves to join Reach for the Sky and The Last Enemy as one the great RAF books of the Second World War. -- ANDREW ROBERTS
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