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New Battle of Britain Book Published



Title:  What the RAF Airman Took to War

Author: Bill Howard


Osprey Publishing Ltd.        Price: $12.95 – 120 Pages

ISBN-10: 1784420557     ISBN-13: 978-178442-0550




A new book on the Battle of Britain has been published by Osprey Publishing Ltd (Shire Press) to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the important Second World War air battle that took place in 1940.  The book, What the RAF Airman Took to War, authored by military historian Bill Howard, tells the story of Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) through the items that the men and women of the RAF carried to war during the years 1939 to 1945.  Original artifacts such as rare leather flying helmets and RAF uniforms worn by famous fighter pilots are featured in fifty full-color photographs and movingly described in short essays that provide a context for the items and their place in history. 


Bill Howard is a military historian who has authored several books and is a regular contributor to historical journals and magazines.  In What the RAF Airman Took to War, Howard not only describes the role of the nearly 3,000 RAF pilots who participated in the Battle of Britain, but also the contributions of the women who served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and RAF ground crew.  Howard said: “There is a tendency to view the RAF pilots as marble men – heroic, legendary and larger than life – but they were real young men of flesh and bone who faced the supreme challenge of their time.  This book helps to tell their story by examining the things they carried into war.” 


The book features a special forward contributed by Battle of Britain veteran, Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum DFC.  Wellum flew with No. 92 Squadron during the Battle and is one of the last surviving members of what Prime Minister Winston Churchill referred to as “the Few.”


Battle of Britain Facts


  • The Battle of Britain describes the British response to German air attacks on England during the Second World War.

  • The “Battle” period is officially described as 10 July to 31 October 1940

  • There were 2917 Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots who are recognized as having flown in combat operations during the Battle.

  • 550 RAF pilots were killed in action during the Battle of Britain.

  • 1,100 British planes were lost during the Battle, while about 1,800 German planes were destroyed.There were more than 2,500 German aircrew killed during operations.

  • In 2015, England will commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Battle.

  • September 15th is known as “Battle of Britain Day” in England.On this day in 1940, the RAF resisted intensive German air assaults and downed sixty enemy aircraft.

  • There are only about 50 RAF aircrew veterans of the Battle of Britain still surviving in 2014.


About the Author


Bill Howard graduated from Manhattanville College (BA, American Studies) in 1983.  He was a Herbert H. Lehman Fellow at the Nelson Rockefeller Graduate School of Public Affairs (SUNY Albany) where he earned a MA in Political Science in 1984.  In 1998, he completed the Program for Senior Executives in State & Local Government at the JFK School of Government, Harvard University.  Howard has published extensively on military, political, and social history in journals and magazines.  His most recent full length books are: “The Leesburg Affair”: The Battle of Ball’s Bluff (1994) and The Civil War Memoirs of William T. Levey (2007).  Beginning in 2011, Howard has published an occasional series of columns in the Albany TimesUnion highlighting the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.






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